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.
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.