In what could end up as an embarrassment for the ruling Congress in Rajasthan, the party was trailing in the panchayat samiti and zila parishad elections even as counting was still on till late Tuesday evening.
As against the BJP’s 1,833 panchayat samiti members, the Congress had won 1,713, followed by Independents with 420. Similarly, in the zila parishad polls, the Congress had won 201, compared to the BJP’s 265.
Until afternoon, the Congress was in the lead but by evening, with the BJP leading in both the panchayat samitis and zila parishads, state BJP president Satish Poonia said the party had bucked the trend of the ruling party winning local polls in the state, and described the BJP’s performance as “historic” and a “win of the rural development policies of the BJP and of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ideas for farmers”.
Poonia pointed out that “this win comes at a time when the ruling Congress government in Rajasthan is enforcing Bharat Bandh against the (Centre’s) policies for farmers”.
The Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government was hoping to maintain its good run in the recent urban body elections — the party had gone on to form Boards in four of six municipal corporations, including Jaipur, Jodhpur and Kota, where polls were held in October-November this year.
For the faction-ridden Rajasthan BJP, the results have come as a much needed boost.
Apart from battling internal bickering, the party has also been under attack from its lone ally in the state, the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP), over the farm laws. While RLP MP Hanuman Beniwal is part of the NDA at the Centre and its three MLAs support the BJP in the state, the RLP contested the panchayat samiti and zila parishad elections independently. By Tuesday evening, RLP’s 56 panchayat samiti candidates had won from among the 582 it fielded, apart from 10 victories in zila parishads.
The CPI(M) won 16 panchayat samiti seats, mainly in Sikar, followed by the BSP on three. Two of CPI(M)’s candidates also won zila parishad seats in Hanumangarh.
A few Congress bigwigs had to suffer losses. In Sikar, the hometown of Congress state president Govind Singh Dotasra, the Congress crossed the halfway mark only in Laxmangarh panchayat samiti – among the 12 panchayat samitis that went to polls in the district. Similarly in Ajmer, the turf of Health Minister Raghu Sharma, BJP won 123 constituencies out of 213 in 11 panchayat samitis, compared to 72 by the Congress until Tuesday evening.
The party also suffered losses in the constituencies of ministers Shale Mohammad, Ashok Chanda and deputy chief whip Mahendra Chaudhary, among others.
Across 21 districts – out of 33 in Rajasthan — 12,663 candidates competed for 4,371 panchayat samiti posts while 1,778 candidates competed for 636 zila parishad posts. This is apart from the 40 40 panchayat samiti and 13 zila parishad members who were elected unopposed.
The elections for zila pramukh and panchayat samiti pradhan will be held on December 10 and elections for up-pramukh and up-pradhan will be held on December 11.
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