2 Votes, 1 Vote, No Vote... Bypoll Autopsy Reveals More Worries for BJP in Rajasthan

After crushing defeats in the Ajmer, Alwar and Mandalgarh bypolls at the hands of Congress, Raje went back to the basics – Bijli, Sadak, Pani – in her budget speech on Monday.

New Delhi: 2, 1, 0... A countdown of sorts has got the BJP worried. These are the votes the party candidate managed in some polling booths in the just concluded bypolls in Rajasthan.

After a microanalysis of the bypoll results, the scale of its defeat to the Congress is what has really shocked the BJP.

The Ajmer Lok Sabha constituency comprises eight assembly segments — seven from Ajmer district and one under Jaipur. The BJP candidate trailed in all the eight segments.

Reports collated by the party show that in Naseerabad Assembly seat, in booth number 223, the BJP got just one vote, while the Congress polled 582. In the adjoining booth number 224, the BJP got two votes, while the Congress received 500.

What was really surprising for the party was the outcome in booth number 49 in Dudhu Assembly segment. Not a single voter cast his/her vote in favour of the ruling party here, while the Congress got 337 votes. This means that even the election agents of the BJP — if they were registered to vote in the same booth — did not vote for the party here!

“We have lost both the city seats in Ajmer. Despite adversarial conditions, we had managed to win these seats before, except in 1985 and 1998. The attrition in urban votes is all the more worrying,” says a senior party leader in Delhi.

The margin of defeat in Rajasthan is another major concern for the party. Alwar Assembly seat was won by the party in 2014 by 2.5 lakh votes. The party has lost it this time by close to 2 lakh.

The Congress won the Mandalgarh Assembly bypoll by more than 12,000 votes despite a party rebel getting 22% of the votes polled.

In 2014, the BJP in Rajasthan, along with half a dozen provinces in north, west and central India, registered a high strike rate, winning more than 90% of the seats at stake.

To make up for the dent in these states in the next Lok Sabha polls, the BJP will have to make inroads into new territory.

And moreover, there is a trend in Rajasthan that the party which wins assembly polls — and they are slated for this year-end — ends up winning a majority seats in Lok Sabha elections a few months later.

“Merely cosmetic changes will not help as some people are talking about replacing the state chief. We need to make drastic and substantive changes,” says a senior leader in the party.

On the other hand, there is some support for Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje from a section of the central leadership. With a three-fourth majority under her belt, Raje is the only known face the party has invested upon heavily in the last two decades.

“In politics, leadership has a brand value which can’t be overlooked. With 10 months to go for the elections, we may have to face the polls under Raje’s leadership,” says another leader closely associated with organisational matters.