Updated: November 2, 2021 1:57:29 pm
Congress candidates lead in both the Assembly bypoll seats in Rajasthan — Vallabhnagar and Dhariawa — with the BJP a distant fourth in the former.
By 12:30 pm on Tuesday, In Vallabhnagar, Congress’ Preeti Shaktawat gained a lead of 6,458 votes over Udailal Dangi, the BJP rebel who was fielded by Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP). The third was independent Randhir Singh Bhinder while BJP’s Himmat Singh Jhala stood fourth.
In Dhariawad, Congress’ Nagraj was leading BJP’s Khet Singh by 15,960 votes.
Before the polls, Vallabhnagar was held by Congress and Dhariawad by BJP. A win in both seats will certainly ease the pressure on Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who has been delaying a cabinet expansion for over a year now. His government has been under attack by leaders from the Sachin Pilot faction.
In the assembly of 200, Gehlot’s government has 106 MLAs of its own – including six BSP MLAs whose case regarding their membership is currently in Supreme Court — apart from the support of 13 independents, 1 RLD MLA and two CPM MLAs, taking the tally to 122 members, well past the 101 needed for the majority.
So, a win in both seats will help Gehlot assert his position as the tallest leader in the state. A loss in both seats may have given more fuel to the Pilot faction.
Similarly, the bypolls were a test for BJP state president Satish Poonia, who has been at loggerheads with former CM Vasundhara Raje. A loss in both the seats, with the party a distant fourth in one, will help Raje’s cause, who maintained her distance from both the seats.
Raje was named as the party’s star campaigner but did not campaign in either seat, citing her daughter-in-law’s poor health.
The results may indicate that Congress managed to put up a united face – Gehlot and Pilot addressed rallies jointly – and that the factionalism issue may be starker in the state BJP.
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