Highest polling in 67 years in Rajasthan keeps suspense alive 

More voters braved the scorching sun this time than ever before. So, did they vote for change? Or were they swayed by Prime Minister’s nationalistic fervour?

Representative Image (Social Media)
Representative Image (Social Media)

Sunny Sebastian

Rajasthan recorded the highest polling this time in the last 67 years. Against 63.11% in 2014, the polling this time was 66.12% , the highest ever in the state. The voters, especially in rural areas, have had little in the last five years of the Modi rule that may draw them to the polling station to vote for the saffron party, braving the scorching desert sun. So did they vote for a change?

“More votes meant different things with different sections of society. In rural areas, less educated victims of Demonetisation and GST have voted against the establishment while in the urban centres formally educated voted for Modi,” said Professor Sanjay Lodha, head of the political science department, Mohanlal Sukhadia University, Udaipur.

With a border of over 1,000 km with Pakistan and many in the armed forces, voters may have got enamoured with the ‘patriotic’ slogans of PM Modi.

“Throughout the electioneering, the BJP, especially PM Modi, tried to rake up emotional issues, creating a kind of political sensationalism to influence the voters. I am afraid, they would have struck a chord with the voters,” Professor Rajiv Gupta, political analyst and former head of department of sociology, Rajasthan University, said.

The seats in the second round of polling - Sriganganagar, Bikaner, Churu, Jhunjhunu, Sikar, Jaipur Rural, Jaipur, Alwar, Bharatpur, Karaui-Dholpur, Dausa and Nagaur - from the areas forming part of Shekhawati and East Rajasthan, where the Congress did well in the 2018 Assembly polls, hold a greater promise for the party. “We hope to win a majority of the seats in the current round,” Congress Chief Whip in the state Assembly and former Jaipur MP Mahesh Joshi said.

“This time we carried out the campaigning systematically, not getting provoked by the unethical tactics or the unparliamentary language used by the BJP bigwigs like PM Modi and Amit Shah. Congress President Rahul Gandhi proved an inspiration in the campaign,” he added.

At 66.12%, the state witnessed its highest ever voter turnout 

Unlike in 2014 when the BJP won all the 25 seats in the state, the Congress is a stronger contender in the present Lok Sabha polls. It’s for the saffron party to battle anti-incumbency and retain as many seats as it can amid a waning Modi wave

The stakes are high in Rajasthan for both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). However, the tables have turned vis-à-vis the 2014 parliamentary election. This time around, the Congress is the challenger while the BJP has to defend the 25 seats it won the last time.

Having won the Assembly election with a comfortable margin in terms of the number of seats - though the difference in terms of vote share was marginal - the Congress is clearly on a stronger footing as compared to the last parliamentary polls. The party also wrested the Ajmer and Alwar Lok Sabha seats from BJP in the by-polls last year.

The saffron party on the other hand has some odds against it. It has little to show in terms of the performance and achievements of the Narendra Modi government amid a waning Modi wave. Instead it has got the additional task of justifying the government’s decisions such as Demonetisation and GST, which some experts have termed “disastrous” for the country’s economy.

Having said that, the BJP is a formidable force in the entire Hindi belt, including Rajasthan. This means the Congress cannot dream of reproducing the BJP’s magic of 2014 despite all its efforts.

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