Congress party registered a resounding victory in the Rajasthan by polls defeating the BJP in two parliamentary constituencies and one assembly segment. The margins were comfortable and BJP had a humiliating defeat.
The impressive victory of party candidates is a major morale booster for the party. With the 2019 Lok Sabha elections fast approaching, the party winning convincingly in the Hindi heartland soon after taking over as the party President is a major shot in the arm for Rahul Gandhi. His young team headed by Sachin Pilot did a creditable job in the campaign.
The results are a major setback to chief minister Vasundara Raje, whose performance has been not up to the mark. There were innumerable complaints from party men about her style of functioning. Administrative lapses too were an embarrassment to the BJP, particularly to the state unit.
The notable success in Alwar, Ajmer and Mondalgarh segments clearly is a reflection of the mood of the public in the Hindi belt. In Rajasthan, the Rajputs and a section of the OBCs were totally alienated by the Raje government. Given the scenario, one should not be surprised if the BJP central leadership goes for a leadership change, as they did in Gujarat.
For the Congress, the victory is indicative of the mood of the public in the northern belt. It indicates that it can put up a bid for power in the Hindi belt states. For instance in Madhya Pradesh, where assembly elections are due along with Rajasthan in the latter half of 2018, the Congress performed well in the Municipal elections held few weeks ago, which came as a shocker to BJP leadership at the Centre.
Assembly elections apart, in the parliamentary elections also the party can put up a formidable challenge to the BJP in northern states, particularly in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal, Rajasthan and challenge the Akali Dal in Punjab. In all these states Congress is the main opposition to the BJP. With Rahul giving prominence to the youth, who have been suppressed by the old guard for long, the chances do look brighter as in Gujarat, the experiment was successful. The party needs to re build the organisational structure, which has been defunct for long, in these states if is keen to bid for power at the Centre in 2019.
The sky-rocketing prices, growing unemployment, failure to fulfil the promises of 2014 campaign and Modi’s magnetic appeal slowly but steadily declining, the Congress chances are brightening. Even the budget proposals by Arun Jaitley are not offering anything spectacular for the masses and most of the proposals announced can only have long term impact many feel.
Be that as it may, the coming assembly elections and the parliamentary polls may see an intensive political campaign with no holds barred. It would be interesting to watch the reaction of both the BJP and Congress leadership to the Rajasthan by poll results.