Has BJP gained momentum in past week in Rajasthan?

Has BJP gained momentum in past week in Rajasthan?

On the last day of campaigning, just after it ended, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje took to Twitter to thank the party leadership. (Photo by Suman Sarkar)

A high voltage election campaigning that witnessed hundreds of star campaigners addressing rallies and roadshows across Rajasthan ended on Wednesday evening, ahead of the December 7 Assembly elections.

This time, as many as 2,274 candidates are contesting from 199 constituencies in the state. Elections in Alwar’s Ramgarh constituency has been postponed due to the death of Bahujan Samaj Party candidate.

Rajasthan’s chief electoral officer Anand Kumar said, “Election campaign ended on Wednesday at 5 pm on a peaceful note. Polling will take place from 8 am to 5 pm on December 7 in 199 constituencies. To ensure free and fair polling, security arrangements have been made at the polling booths.

On the last day of campaigning, just after it ended, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje took to Twitter to thank the party leadership.

Raje tweeted, “Thank you Hon’ble PM Shri @narendramodi ji, Shri @AmitShah ji, our esteemed central leadership and my compatriots in #BJP4Rajasthan on an energetic campaign. Our karyakartas have been champions. Grateful to everyone”.

In the Congress camp, two bigwigs also took to Twitter to connect with followers on the last day of campaigning. Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot said, “I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the people of #Rajasthan for their overwhelming love and support in favour of the Congress. Let’s take a pledge to ensure the welfare of every citizen of Rajasthan and increase overall happiness index of the state”.

Another Congress stalwart and former chief minister Ashok Gehlot posted a video in which he is seen urging people to vote in a free and fair manner.

Interestingly, in Rajasthan, there is a neck and neck fight between the Congress and the BJP. In the 2013 polls, the BJP won with a thumping majority - 163 seats - whereas the Congress was reduced to just 22 seats. Moreover, Independent candidates swept 15 seats.

There are 51,796 polling booths for the 4.7-crore registered voters in Rajasthan. While there are 2,28,26,329, women voters, there are 20,29,680 first-time voters. As many as 87 parties are in the fray, while there were 57 in 2013.

Swing in mood?

One week ago, the voters’ pulse in Rajasthan was clearly suggestive of the Congress coming to power with a comfortable majority. However, in the last one week, as the campaigning took off, the experts feel the BJP has gained ground. There could be two factors for the sudden change: campaign strategy and Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s goof-ups that went viral on social media.

According to Onkar Singh Lakhawat, the BJP’s election monitoring committee chairman, campaign strategy helped the saffron party gain ground.

“We planned our campaigns in such a way that there were no clashes between big rallies. We were particular about PM Modi’s, CM Yogi Adityanath, Amit Shah and Raje’s rallies. They are the crowd pullers”, Lakhawat said.

In the BJP ruled state, the election campaign initially focused on farmers’ issues and corruption. Issues related to Hindutva were also raised with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rahul sparring over ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ slogan. Modi, Adityanath, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and several other Union ministers campaigned in the state, which the BJP is fighting to retain.

Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje also crisscrossed the state, travelling by road and air to address at least five meetings a day. In the last seven days, the BJP’s star campaigner held 13 public rallies, whereas BJP president Amit Shah held 20 ‘sabhas’. In total, Raje held 75 rallies across the state.

Singh addressed 17 public meetings, including one in Raje’s constituency, and Adityanath held 25 rallies. Similarly, Union ministers Smriti Irani and Sushma Swaraj addressed rallies and held interactions at town halls across Rajasthan.

In the Congress camp, the party’s star campaigner Rahul held nine public rallies in the last seven days. Former cricketer-turned-politician Navjyot Singh Sidhu addressed 20 rallies in the last one week.