Rajasthan is gearing up for assembly polls on November 25, 2023, where 200 legislators will be elected. The battle primarily pitches the ruling Congress party against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) making it a three-way contest in some constituencies.
In the 2018 elections, the Congress secured 100 seats, edging past the BJP's 73 seats. Subsequently, Congress formed the government with the support of six BSP MLAs who later switched allegiance to Congress, creating strained relations between the two parties. Consequently, BSP Supremo Mayawati has fielded candidates for 190 seats in the upcoming polls.
Rajasthan's political trends
Rajasthan has witnessed a trend of alternating governments every five years since 2003.
The state’s history indicates that when the BJP wins, it secures a sweeping victory, while Congress manages to scrape through when it triumphs.
This was evident in 2018 when Congress secured 100 seats against BJP's 73. In contrast, in the 2013 elections, BJP clinched 163 seats while Congress, under Ashok Gehlot, only managed 21 seats.
Going by this cyclic pattern, BJP is anticipated to stage a comeback this time.
However, BJP, facing a setback in 2018 due to voter dissatisfaction with former CM Vasundhara Raje, hasn't fielded a prominent CM candidate this time. Instead, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leading the party's campaign.
Congress, on the other hand, is confident of retaining the state under the leadership of Gehlot.
Will Ashok Gehlot retain the top post?
A CSDS survey indicates a 71% satisfaction rate with Ashok Gehlot's government, with 43% fully satisfied and 28% somewhat satisfied.
In anticipation of local anti-incumbency, Congress has denied tickets to 19 sitting MLAs out of 108, while BJP has excluded 11 of its 73 MLAs.
Despite refraining from announcing Gehlot as the CM candidate, governance may follow a power-sharing arrangement between Gehlot and Deputy CM Sachin Pilot.
However, Gehlot's internal conflict with Sachin Pilot and his perceived failure in curbing local communal incidents, such as the Udaipur incident, might dent his image.
Congress or BJP?
While Congress aims to retain the state, opinion polls favor the BJP.
Analysis suggests Congress faces vulnerability in approximately 47 swing seats won in 2018, now at risk of shifting.These seats have swung in the last three elections, possibly favoring BJP this time.
This projects Congress fighting on 146 strong seats against BJP's 181.
BJP requires 101 out of 181 seats, whereas Congress needs a winning rate of 70%, securing 101 out of 146 seats, to retain power.
Given the Gehlot versus PM Modi contest, the electoral outcome remains intriguing, but pollsters tip BJP as the frontrunner.