Rajasthan: How 11 LS seats hold out hope for Congress in 2024

After drawing a blank in the Lok Sabha polls of 2014 and 2019, will the party see a revival of sorts in the state in 2024? Some analysts certainly think so

Representative image (photo: National Herald archives)
Representative image (photo: National Herald archives)

Prakash Bhandari

The Congress may have won 69 seats in the recently concluded Rajasthan assembly elections against the BJP's 115, but an interesting little factoid has emerged amidst all the heavy-duty post-poll analyses.

As the country waits to see who will eventually become the chief minister thanks to the jostling for position among several heavy-duty contenders within the BJP, most analysts appear to not have noticed that in 11 of the state's 25 Lok Sabha constituencies housing 200 assembly segments, the Congress actually gained a lead over the BJP, while the BJP maintained its lead in the remaining 14.

This is significant in light of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, considering the Congress drew a blank in the state in 2014 and 2019. Rajasthan Congress spokesperson Swarnim Chaturvedi said the lead — even if slender in some cases — taken by the Congress in all the assembly segments of the 11 Lok Sabha constituencies is a "happy sign" and gives an indication that the party could perform well in the 2024 elections.

A survey of the assembly election results shows the Congress registered a lead over the BJP in the Lok Sabha constituencies of Jaipur Rural, Alwar, Barmer, Ganganagar, Banswara, Jhunjhunu, Karauli-Dholpur, Nagaur, Tonk-Sawai Madhopur, Jalore, and Bharatpur.

While the party showed a lead of over 1 lakh votes in Jaipur Rural and Alwar, the lead over the BJP was less than 50,000 in six constituencies. Political analyst Avadhesh Akodiya said if it concentrates on these 11 constituencies, the Congress could produce impressive results in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Akodiya also pointed out that following the 2018 assembly elections, the Congress came to power with 39.30 per cent of the votes against the BJP’s 38.08 per cent.

But the party lost all the 25 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 as it could muster 34.44 per cent votes against a massive 58.44 per cent in favour of the BJP. The BJP led the Congress in 185 assembly segments, leaving only 15 for the Congress. In the last Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won six seats by over 1 lakh votes, while 22 of the BJP’s winners won by a margin of over 2 lakh votes.

For the assembly elections this time, three of the BJP's losing candidates were Narendra Kumar (Jhunjhunu), Bhagirath Choudhry (Ajmer) and Devji Patel (Jalore), with Choudhry finishing third in the Kishangarh assembly segment of Ajmer. Both Jhunjhunu and Jalore are among the 11 constituencies in which the Congress led the BJP.

Meanwhile, three BJP members of the Lok Sabha — Diya Kumari (Rajsamand), Mahant Balak Nath (Alwar) and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (Jaipur Rural) — and Rajya Sabha MP Dr Kirori Lal Meena will now serve as members of the legislative assembly.

This brings up the question of Rajya Sabha elections early next year, where the Congress could win one seat, which will be vacated once the term of Rajya Sabha member and former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh ends in April 2024. The Congress has the required first-priority vote of 51 members.

Meena, who was elected to the assembly, has resigned from the Rajya Sabha, though his term was to expire in April 2024 too. The third seat will be vacated by Union minister Bhupendra Yadav, once again when his tenure ends in April 2024.

For the three Rajya Sabha seats thus falling vacant, the BJP with its 115 assembly seats can easily win two, with the Congress getting one. Apart from its own 115, the BJP also has the support of seven Independents, who were elected as BJP rebels this time, but have since extended their support to the parent party.

Currently, there are 10 members from the state in the Rajya Sabha, six from the Congress and four from the BJP.

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