New Delhi: Rajasthan went to polls on Friday to determine whether the BJP manages to buck anti-incumbency, or an increasingly aggressive opposition turns the tide to return to power.
While the results will be announced on December 11, the picture is expected to come clear to some extent with the exit polls today. Meanwhile, all eyes continue to be on the straight fight between the BJP and the Congress for about 130 of the 200 state assembly seats.
In other constituencies, groups like the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and rebels who are contesting against official party candidates may queer the pitch.
Over 50 of the 200 assembly constituencies in Rajasthan will see a triangular contest with rebels from both the BJP and the Congress remaining in the fray as independent candidates on many of these seats.
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While the saffron party expelled 11 rebel candidates, including four ministers, for their decision to contest elections against party candidates, it managed to persuade MLAs Gyan Dev Ahuja, Bhawani Singh Rajawat, Taru Rai Kaga and Alka Gurjar from contesting against the party nominees after being denied tickets.
In the current House, the BJP has 160 seats and the Congress 25.
The recent pre-poll surveys have given the opposition a clear edge over the BJP in the poll-bound state, primarily due to the anti-incumbency factor. Also, the state has been voting both the parties to power alternatively since 1993.
However, the outcome depends largely on factors like caste equations, party’s chief ministerial face and the NDA government’s presence at the Centre.
Vasundhara Raje hopes to return as the state’s chief minister. If the Congress wins, it is expected to pick between former chief minister Ashok Gehlot and state party president Sachin Pilot for the top post in the state.
Leaving no stone unturned to retain power in Rajasthan, the BJP, in its poll manifesto named ‘Gaurav Sankalp’, promised to create over 50 lakh job opportunities in the self-employed and private sector. It also promised it will try to build an artificial inland port by bringing the waters of the Arabia Sea to Gujarat to Sanchor and Jalore.
On the other hand, the Congress, eyeing to wrest power from the saffron party, has promised jobs to youth, free education to women, among other in its manifesto. Party chief Rahul Gandhi has also promised farm loan waiver within 10 days of coming to power.
Rajasthan went to polls along with Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram. The results of the assembly elections in these five states is expected to set the tone for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.