Rajasthan's citizens want change every five years, which is nearly a truism in indian politics. For the previous 25 years, the state has not only switched between the two parties but also swung between two leaders, whether it was vasundhara raje replacing ashok gehlot in 2003, Gehlot replacing Raje in 2008, Raje replacing Gehlot in 2013, or Gehlot replacing Raje once again in 2018. As election season neared, the bjp began as the favorite.

Except there was a catch. On the one hand, the bjp did not declare Raje as its chief ministerial candidate, while Gehlot was viewed as a strong incumbent with the ability to break the previous trend. Was this the turning point in Rajasthan's voting habits? It was not to be, as the bjp won convincingly despite not having presented any man as the cm face, and Gehlot lost despite being, even by his opponents' admission, a strong incumbent with a high level of political savvy.

What explains this pattern of continuity?

Take the Congress.


There is little question that the deep factional division within the Congress's state unit, between Gehlot and Sachin Pilot, who has stayed dissatisfied for five years after being denied what he believed was his due claim to the CM's seat, has harmed the party's prospects. This factionalism was on show throughout the Congress's period in office, including spats between Gehlot and Pilot when both were in administration, Pilot's attempted revolt, and current struggles over party posts and ticket distribution.

Most importantly, this shattered the party's social alliance on the ground, with Gujjars, Pilot's social base, and a significant backward section in the state dissatisfied with the Congress. It also affected organizational cohesiveness and worker morale, with factional interests taking precedence above party objectives. Everything said to voters that this was a party that couldn't keep its house in order.

If a lack of party unity undermined congress from the start, its comparatively solid welfare credentials were mitigated by perceived corruption at both the state and local legislative levels. Indeed, according to an HT data analysis, the congress lost 63 seats to the bjp, a huge change by any metric.

But, even if politics was local, it was still national. Voters continue to have high regard for narendra Modi. Modi's welfare and anti-corruption campaign, his outreach to women, backward, and Dalits, and the BJP's portrayal of the Gehlot government as presiding over lawlessness all aided the party, as did the party's careful and early ticket distribution, which allowed individual candidates to build profiles and support. The congress national leadership, for its part, added little value to Gehlot's campaign.

The BJP's campaign also featured a strong Hindutva undercurrent, centered on the assassination of Kanhaiya Lal in the aftermath of his support for then-BJP spokeswoman Nupur Sharma's remarks against the Prophet and the projection of a radical Hindutva leader as a viable state leader. It's difficult to say how big of an influence the issues had in quantitative terms, but they offered the party and its core voter base something to coalesce around.

Beyond religion and caste, anecdotal accounts from the ground suggest that the BJP's victory was aided by the support of women voters. women have evolved as a stable and devoted constituency for the bjp, owing to Modi's image as a sympathetic provider of welfare in the form of commodities and services that frequently make women's life simpler — think gas cylinders, toilets, rural houses and drinking water — as well as the promise of order.



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