Updated: December 12, 2018 8:10:19 am
Denied tickets in the Assembly elections, nine rebel candidates, who emerged winners after counting Tuesday, dented the Congress’s chances of crossing the halfway mark on its own in Rajasthan. The rebels, all Congress leaders expelled after refusing to withdraw their names from the fray, may now hold the key in selecting the next chief minister.
Most rebel candidates — former Congress legislators and ministers — who contested as Independents defeated the designated candidate of the grand old party. In all, 13 Independents were elected to the 200-member Rajasthan House with 9.5% of the vote share, up from 8.37% in 2013.
According to Congress leaders, such candidates whose support the Congress requires to form the government can now influence the party’s decision of selecting its chief ministerial candidate.
Congress sources admitted Tuesday that had the party fielded the rebels who went on to win, the party’s tally would have been much higher than its final seat count of 99. Senior leaders said that the large number of Congress rebels getting elected is a result of mistakes that the party made during the ticketing process when it ended up overlooking candidates including former MLAs and ministers and fielded relatively new faces in their place.
“Owing to differences among factions of various senior leaders in the party, candidates such as Sanyam Lodha, Mahadeo Singh Khandela and Babulal Nagar were ignored and tickets were given to weak candidates. Had they been fielded by the Congress then we could have got a clear majority in the house,” said a Congress leader.
Several of the rebel Congress candidates such as Nagar are loyalists of former chief minister Ashok Gehlot and have been a part of the previous Congress government led by him. According to party sources, such rebel Congress candidates can end up lending support to the Congress on the condition that Gehlot becomes the chief minister.
However, state Congress president Sachin Pilot said that he too is in touch with several of these candidates.
“Anyone who has fought against the ideology of the BJP in these elections, anybody who wants to form a secular, hard-working, people’s government, those people will certainly come forward and support the Congress party. I am in touch with most of these people,” said Pilot.
Rebel Congress candidates who won as independents include former minister Nagar from Dudu, five-time MLA and former Union minister Mahadeo Singh Khandela from Khandela and Sanyam Lodha from Sirohi who defeated BJP cow welfare minister Otaram Devasi.
The candidates fielded by the Congress against these three rebels couldn’t even finish second in the electoral battle.
The BJP too paid the price after denying tickets to some of its leaders who went on to win the elections after contesting as independents. Om Prakash Hoodla, who was a parliamentary secretary in the BJP government won from the Mahuwa seat by a margin of 9,985 votes, defeating the candidate fielded by the saffron party.
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