The mid-term by-elections in Rajasthan turned out to be quite a shocker for the ruling saffron party as Congress bagged all three seats at Mandalgarh, Ajmer and Alwar; however the results might not be clear pointers for the direction of political wind in the state despite being too close to the Assembly Elections.

In a major setback for the BJP, the party lost all three seats in the by-polls in Rajasthan including one assembly seat of Mandalgarh and two Lok Sabha constituencies in Ajmer and Alwar – that too, with a comfortable margin. As per the results declared by the Election Commission, Congress’s Raghu Sharma won Ajmer Lok Sabha seat with a margin of 84,414 votes, Dr Karan Singh Yadav won Alwar parliamentary seat with a margin of 1,96,496 votes and Vivek Dhakar won Mandalgarh Vidhan Sabha seat with a margin of 12,976 votes. The by-poll results are considered to be a litmus test for the Vasundhara Raje government and an impressive victory for Congress in the state where there were clean-washed back in 2013 assembly polls.

Politically, for BJP, who has won 15 seats of the 17 during 2013 Rajasthan elections, the results of the by-poll might be alarm bells, but these results might not exactly be clear pointers for the political winds in Rajasthan. Simply because there is a string of local factors that often prove to be decisive of what voters do in their voting booths, especially in by-elections, which are essentially a chance for the voters to display their dismay with the ruling parties. Factors like selection of candidate over party, civic grievances, livelihood concerns and governance issues really count in in these elections. Perhaps, the by-poll results are a reflection of Ms Raje’s imperious attitude that alienated large sections within her own party. The Padmaavat factor among majority Rajput community too, has gained momentum which proved to be decisive, at least for the by-polls.

And it might be taken as a bigger indicator for change of political winds in Rajasthan because the people of state has not given the BJP or the Congress, two consecutive terms in the Assembly elections since 1993. But the Modi-wave is supposed to change the political perceptions in the state as the party has now become a pan-India choice and a natural fit with Delhi. Sure BJP has lost some seats after 2014, like in Bihar and in Punjab – but it is Rajasthan where the saffron can scrap through, just like Gujarat. But, Congress to have found a way to give BJP a tough fight – even in a saffron bastion like Gujarat and Rajasthan. Rajasthan and its results are very important for both parties to opt for a straight face-off, as the state will hold one of the seven assembly elections to be held before Lok Sabha 2019. A defeat in the upcoming assembly elections for BJP can mean only one thing: the BJP is slipping in approval ratings in the run-up to 2019.

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