The ruling BJP government was left red-faced Tuesday morning as the decimated Congress yet again asserted itself and swept away three out of the four assembly seats that went to bypolls on September 13. Assembly seats – Weir, Surajgarh and Nasirabad – gave the Congress a clear victory while the BJP retained it Kota South seat.
BJP legislators Sanwar Lal Jat, Om Birla, Santosh Ahlawat and Bahadur Singh Koli, who were elected from Nasirabad, Kota (South), Surajgarh and Weir assembly constituencies, had vacated the seats after being elected in the recent parliamentary elections.
While the overwhelmed Congress camp attributed the victory to growing dissatisfaction among the electorate with the Vasundhara Raje led government, BJP spokespersons maintained that bypolls are contested on local issues. Party spokesperson Kailash Nath Bhatt said, “While the larger polls were held on national and state-level issues, bypolls are always contested on smaller, more local issues. This does not go to show that the people are unhappy with the state government.”
Congress’ Bhajanlal Jatav in Weir won by a margin of 25,108 votes, Sharwan Kumar by 3270 votes in Surajgarh and Ramnarayan Gurjar by a thin margin of 386 votes in Nasirabad. BJP’s Sandeep Sharma managed to retain the Kota South seat and won by a margin of 25,707 votes. BJP leader Om Birla had earlier won this seat by a whopping margin of over 56,000 votes. Recounting was held for Nasirabad seat after BJP workers raised doubts but the Congress managed maintain its lead.
The victory is being seen as a major comeback for the Congress party in the state under the leadership of Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sachin Pilot. Though the three new Congress legislators will add to a decimated count of 23 MLAs in the state assembly and in no way are in a position to threaten the BJP’s dominant majority, the victory comes as a huge morale booster for Congress that was smarting from its ignominious defeat in both the assembly and parliamentary elections.
Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Ramnarayan Dudi said that the party was confident of sweeping the upcoming local body elections slated later this year.
PCC chief Sachin Pilot said soon after the results were announced, “For us it is a victory not on three but all four seats. Even in Kota South, which the BJP has retained, their voteshare has shrunk significantly. The ruling BJP government misused their power, blatantly violated the model code of conduct, used muscle and money power in an effort to influence voting in the four seats but they have got their befitting reply. The state government should not have stopped out welfare schemes. They should introspect and learn a lesson from this. We will have to continue to endure this government for the next four years but it is time they mend their ways.”
Raje’s aides maintained that nine months is too short a period of time to be able to show significant deliveries of the new state government.
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