Rajasthan Assembly Election: BJP, Congress leave no room for alliance partners

Sachin Pilot with Ashok Gehlot
Sachin Pilot with Ashok Gehlot

Jaipur: The Assembly election in Rajasthan has yet again brought forth the frailty of political alliances. Both the BJP and Congress are so confident of forming the government on their own that they are unwilling to share even a handful of the 200 seats with their political allies.

The rift first appeared in the BJP-led NDA, where its allies Chirag Paswan's LJP and Dushyant Chautala-led JJP declared candidates on 12 and six seats, respectively. These include many seats where the BJP has already declared its candidate. The Gopinath Shinde-led Shiv Sena is also likely to field its candidates. BJP's biggest loss though comes in breaking the ties with the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) which has three seats in the present assembly.

The opposition INDIA bloc is no different. The alliance faced a major setback when AAP declared candidates for 43 seats. The Arvind Kejriwal-led party had lost all the 142 seats it contested last time. But boosted by its victory in neighbouring Punjab and the expanded member base in the state, the party feels it can pose serious problems for the two heavyweights.

As for the Congress, it is in dilemma to accommodate the MLAs of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Rashtriya Lok Da (RLD) and Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP), who in a post-election alliance last time extended support and stability to the Congress government under CM Ashok Gehlot. They stood steadfast with the party even as it faced internal challenges from a faction supporting Sachin Pilot.

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Former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vashundhara Raje arrives at the BJP Headquarters to attend the party's Central Election Committee meeting ahead of Rajasthan Assembly polls, in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: PTI

"Chief minister Ashok Gehlot has vehemently favoured accommodating all those who supported his government. Though many leaders within the Congress feel that the aspirations of the party workers must also not be ignored. One may already see rebels on various seats where the party has extended tickets to outsiders," a senior Congress leader said.

The BJP is also facing the rebel trouble. The fear of rebellion has kept the party from declaring candidates for 76 seats, while the Congress is yet to field candidates for 44 of the 200 assembly seats.

Rajasthan has traditionally been a two-party state. The BJP and Congress respectively received 38.8 and 39.3 per cent of the votes cast in 2018. (Independents collectively stood third with 9.5 per cent votes followed by BSP with 4 per cent, RLP 2.5 per cent and CPM 1.2 per cent. The remaining parties settled with less than 5 per cent of votes.)

If they repeat a similar performance, then allies become crucial. They play a major role in seats with close contests. In 2018 there were 38 seats where the victory margin was less than 5,000 votes, while nine seats were decided by a margin of less than a thousand votes.

Despite the internal trouble, the Congress is hopeful that the public will vote in favour of welfare schemes initiated by the Ashok Gehlot government and more rivals will only divide the opposition votes. The BJP meanwhile has not declared its CM candidate and its rallying point is PM Modi. Yet it too is confident to keep its vote bank intact.

However, it can not be denied that the candidates of the smaller parties hold the potential to disrupt caste equations and impact the outcomes.

As for the smaller parties, it is an issue of existence. Rajasthan is the largest state in size and holds 25 parliamentary seats. Parties especially those active in the Hindi-speaking states need to have a local presence in Rajasthan. And the upcoming election could prove how far have they grown in stature in the state.

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