Jaipur: The Congress has thumped the ruling BJP in Rajasthan, wresting the two Lok Sabha and one state Assembly seats in by-polls in the key cow belt state where the saffron party is eyeing a second straight term when Assembly elections are held in December this year.
After making a remarkable turnaround in its electoral fortunes in neighbouring Gujarat late last year, the Congress put up a robust performance in Rajasthan where its candidates wrested Alwar and Ajmer Lok Sabha and Mandalgarh Assembly seats from the BJP by impressive margins.
The defeat for the BJP came days after the release of period film ‘Padmaavat’ which saw an upheaval of sorts in the state, with the influential Rajput community up in arms against its screening, claiming it distorted historical facts and projected queen Padmini of Mewar in poor light. Though the BJP government stood solidly behind the Shree Rajput Karni Sena, which spearheaded the protest against the film, to stall its release, the gesture did not pay off as the party lost the Ajmer seat that has a sizeable population of Rajputs.
The recent incidents of vigilantism in the name of cow protection, including the lynching of a Muslim man Pehlu Khan in Alwar over allegations of cow smuggling, appeared to have led to consolidation of the minority community behind the Congress.
Numbers tell the tale: While Karan Singh Yadav of the Congress trounced his nearest BJP rival Jaswant Yadav by a whopping 196,496 votes in Alwar, the main opposition party’s nominee for Ajmer, Raghu Sharma, beat BJP’s Swaroop Lamba by an impressive margin of over 84,414 votes. The Congress won the Mandalgarh Assembly seat by nearly 13,000 votes. Rebel Congress leader Gopal Malviya, who contested as an independent, failed to alter the outcome.
The BJP had won all the 25 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state in the 2014 general elections. Buoyed by the results, a jubilant Congress president Rahul Gandhi hailed the party’s Rajasthan unit for its impressive show, calling the outcome a “rejection” of the BJP by the people.