Rajasthan set to vote against Vasundhara Raje and BJP

Despite the BJP’s hi-tech campaign, the anti-Raje atmosphere in the state may lead to BJP’s decline

Photo courtesy: social media
Photo courtesy: social media

Prakash Bhandari

Never has a powerful political party like the BJP been in such despair and in a state of hopelessness as it is today. Three months ago, when the Chief Minister took out her Gaurav Yatra, she wanted the people’s mandate to enable her party to rule for another five years. But the Gaurav Yatra proved to be sort of a Vidai Yatra. It proved to be suicidal when people rejected her tall claims of development that her government had apparently ushered in. The people had their own list of grievances and wanted redressals. They wanted to know about the promises made in the party’s manifesto. This sent the Chief Minister on the back foot. She changed her tenor after that, seeking another five years to fulfil those promises but there were few takers. Negativity and anti-incumbency surfaced.

A clever PCC president, Sachin Pilot, followed the Gaurav Yatra with his own yatra and started listing the failures of the BJP government on various fronts. Pilot and former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot joined hands to tell the people how miserably the government has failed in governance and how corrupt it has been. Sachin asked 45 questions and started listing them through the receptive media.

Neither Vasundhara Raje nor the BJP’s hi-tech social media team could counter it. The dye was cast. More than the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister became the subject of people’s criticism and she was described as a leader who has failed to deliver. Anti-Vasundhara Raje fervour overtook the anti-incumbency factor. This led to a situation where the BJP was at the receiving end and it realised that the party was led by a Chief Minister who was unpopular and a total liability. But the party was not in a position to effect a change of guard. Aggressive campaigns by both Pilot and Gehlot added fuel to the fire and negativity snowballed.

Notebandi and GST proved to be a massive failures, there were no investments forthcoming and, with the government unable to provide jobs, the private sector found the investment climate not conducive and the false promises started hurting the desperate youth.

Interestingly, the youth who gave overwhelming support to the BJP in the 2013 state Assembly elections after they were promised jobs became the most vocal critic. Against the promised 15 lakh jobs, only one lakh jobs were given and that too because of the vacancies created by retirements. The Congress rallies started attracting a large number of youth - a desperate situation for the BJP from which it could not recover.

“Notebandi and GST proved to be a massive failures, there were no investments forthcoming and, with the government unable to provide jobs, the private sector found the investment climate not conducive and the false promises started hurting the desperate youth,” says Shirish Gautam, an MBA graduate.

In the last Assembly elections, the traders, misled by Modi’s bluffs of Achhe Din and economic prosperity, voted overwhelmingly in favour of the BJP. But the same business community went against the Modi government on the issues of demonteisation and GST.

“I am in the textile printing business and I know how Notebandi and GST hit me. My turnover in the last two years got reduced by 50 per cent and my establishment expenses increased. I have to cut down my number of employees as business is affected. Online retail trade further hit the business and owning large showrooms became a liability. We are hurt by the false promises and we started thinking of the days when the Congress government so effectively introduced the reforms. Those were better days and now we admit it,” says Raju Abhichandani, a textile dealer.
Photo courtesy: social media
Photo courtesy: social media
Sachin Pilot, President of the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee

The feedback from the ground sent alarm bells ringing in the party headquarters and the party president made five trips to the state to muster support of the party’s cadres to salvage the situation. The Prime Minister also made four trips and the Gaurav Yatra culminated with Narendra Modi’s Rally at Ajmer where thin attendance upset the party’s brains.

Poor governance and the apathy of the party workers left the BJP in the lurch. I am and active RSS worker for 45 years and never have I seen a government as desperate as this. We forgot to talk about the achievements of the government, instead adopted the Hindutva issues more than the economic issues. The people talked about rampant corruption and the high-handedness of the bureaucracy and how the MLAs were ignored. The situation was getting worse and despite the warnings of the RSS, nothing improved. Now the anti-incumbency factor has snowballed and the people have started thinking of effecting a change,” says Ram Gopal Saini, an RSS worker.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat made over a dozen trips to the state and held “Atma Chintan Shivir” of the RSS. Here, Bhagwat got the feedback of the RSS workers, but he talked of Hindutva and Rashtra Nirman without talking much about the development programmes in the state.

Barring one or two rallies, Vasundhara Raje kept herself away from the RSS rallies addressed by Bhagwat. What was amazing was the way Bhagwat kept mum on the feedbacks given by RSS workers about the negativity amongst people about the government.

The RSS supremo never talked about giving the BJP government another five years, he never praised the BJP government’s work in the state and talked more about Hindutva and nation-building. He could not rejuvenate the sagging spirit of the RSS workers.

Now, the BJP hopes that the massive campaign of the Prime Minister during the election due on December 7 can help the BJP. The BJP feels the charisma of Modi is still there and the Prime Minister will be able to effect a turnaround.

Party leaders feel that Assembly poll results will eventually have its effect on the Lok Sabha elections. The spirited Congress, once back in power, will leave no stone unturned to repeat its Assembly success in the Lok Sabha polls.

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