New Delhi: At a time the NDA government is facing flak over farmers’ protest, the BJP’s win in Rajasthan Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti elections has given the party ammunition to blunt opposition attacks and showcase that farmers still trust the Modi dispensation.
BJP national president J.P. Nadda asserted that the victory shows the trust the poor, farmers and labourers have in Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He also thanked farmers and women for reposing faith in the BJP.
राजस्थान में पंचायती राज और जिला परिषद चुनावों में प्रदेश के ग्रामीण क्षेत्र की जनता, किसानों व महिलाओं ने भाजपा में जो विश्वास प्रकट किया है, इसके लिए मैं उनका आभार व्यक्त करता हूं। यह जीत गांव, गरीब, किसान और मजदूर के प्रधानमंत्री श्री @narendramodi जी में विश्वास का प्रतीक है।
— Jagat Prakash Nadda (@JPNadda) December 9, 2020
Former chief minister Vasundhara Raje termed the victory a defeat of “lies, deceit and arrogance” of the Congress government.
पंचायती राज चुनावों के ये परिणाम वास्तव में कांग्रेस सरकार के झूठ, फ़रेब, दम्भ व अहंकार की पराजय है तथा यह जीत केन्द्र की मोदी सरकार पर जनता के विश्वास की विजय हैं। प्रदेशवासियों से मिले इस अटूट प्यार व आशीर्वाद ने संगठन में नये उत्साह व उमंग का संचार किया है।@BJP4Rajasthan
— Vasundhara Raje (@VasundharaBJP) December 8, 2020
The elections were held in 21 districts in four phases on 23 November, 26 November, 1 December and 5 December.
Of the 4,371 Panchayat Samiti seats, the BJP bagged 1,989 seats, while the Congress managed to get 1,852 seats. In Zila Parishads, of the 636 seats, the BJP won 353 seats, while Congress managed to get 252 seats. The remaining were bagged by other parties and Independent candidates.
While the victory is a shot in the arm for the BJP, it’s a major setback for the ruling Congress, which came fresh out of an open revolt mounted by party leader and former deputy CM Sachin Pilot.
Rajasthan assembly elections may still be three years away, but with this victory the BJP will be able to put more pressure on Gehlot, said party leaders.
BJP state president Satish Poonia told ThePrint: “The main factor behind the BJP victory is that people are fed up with Ashok Gehlot and with the infighting in the Congress. Development work has stalled, Gehlot is only making allegations against the Centre that ‘we are toppling his government’ to save his seat. His countdown has started and people have shown faith in the Modi leadership and BJP policies.”
Union minister Prakash Javadekar said the poll victory shows that the BJP stands vindicated over the farm laws. The party will also now be able to build pressure on the Congress government over alleged mismanagement in the state.
The BJP victory holds more significance as the party has a majority in 14 of the 21 Zila Parishads, while Congress won a majority in just 5. In the last elections, Congress had won a majority in seven.
The BJP clinched a hattrick in the districts of Ajmer, Jhalawar, which is a stronghold of Vasundhara Raje, and Chittorgarh, while Congress has made a hattrick in Bikaner, Banswada and Jaisalmer.
In six districts and pockets, represented by Congress leaders and ministers, including party chief Govind Singh Dotasra in Sikar, Health Minister Raghu Sharma in Ajmer, Sports Minister Ashok Chandana in Hindoli and Sachin Pilot in Tonk, BJP candidates have won.
‘Will watch how Pilot play his card now’
A senior BJP leader, who didn’t want to be named, told ThePrint the results show that anti-incumbency is growing against the Congress.
“Usually, the ruling party performs well in local body elections. In the panchayats, they (Congress) will manage more pramukhs (heads) since the victory margin is not wide and there are many Independents. But in Zila Parishads, it’s a setback. Overall, this shows that anti-incumbency is increasing against Congress and we can win the assembly polls easily whenever it happens. But this will create trouble for Gehlot’s continuance. Now, Sachin Pilot also has a chance to play his card by saying that Gehlot is losing plot in the state,” he added.
A second BJP leader said the victory will also give some credibility to Satish Poonia’s leadership. “But it is early to say if Vasundhara ji’s dominance will phase out as she has performed well in Jhalawar, while BJP central minister Arjun Ram Meghwal’s son lost the Zila Parishad seat in Bikaner,” he said.
The leader also said the BJP will watch how Pilot, who had rebelled against Gehlot, plays his cards after this verdict.
He further said more local body poll results will be coming in few days from Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Bodoland Territorial Council in Assam and Karnataka, which will consolidate the party’s narrative that Congress is phasing out, that farmers’ agitation is opposition’s handiwork and that people have trust in Modi’s leadership.