Rajasthan’s political shifts: The 48 swing seats and other influencing factors | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Rajasthan’s political shifts: The 48 swing seats and other influencing factors

Nov 24, 2023 02:27 PM IST

In 2013, the BJP got 44% votes winning 163 of 200 assembly seats. The 48 seats that belonged to the Congress in 2008, shifted to the BJP in 2013

“My vote will be for change,” says Seema Pargi, an 18-year-old resident of Beduva village in Simlawara tehsil of Rajasthan’s Dungarpur district and a first-time voter. For her, change means more development. “I want more development for my village and more security for women…There is a long-standing tradition that on completion of five years, a new government takes over,” says Pargi.

Since 1993, Rajasthan has seen a consistent change in power between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress every five years (Representative Photo)
Since 1993, Rajasthan has seen a consistent change in power between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress every five years (Representative Photo)

Since 1993, Rajasthan has seen a consistent change in power between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress every five years, and the key to this change is 48 assembly seats, which flip every five years. Congress leader and current chief minister Ashok Gehlot has been the state CM three times and BJP’s Vasundhara Raje twice during this period.

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According to the data from the election commission, these 48 seats had alternated between the Congress or its allies and the BJP in the last three elections since 2008 – the first election after the delimitation of assembly seats.

Also Read: Rajasthan: Ashok Gehlot’s allies are his biggest enemy in these elections

In 2013, the BJP got 44% votes winning 163 of 200 assembly seats. The 48 seats that belonged to the Congress in 2008, shifted to the BJP in 2013, only to return to the Congress or its rebel candidates in 2018. This signifies that almost a quarter of the assembly has the potential to switch allegiance and revert to its previous winner, leading to a fresh electoral outcome.

In addition to these, there are 25 or 12.5% of the assembly seats that were with the BJP in 2008 and 2013 but went to Congress in 2018. For instance, Adarsh Nagar and Virat Nagar in Jaipur city were held by the BJP in 2008 and 2013 but transitioned to Congress in 2018. The BJP also lost some seats in the Jat land and Mewat to Congress, which it had won in 2008 and 2013. This time, the BJP, which is in opposition, hopes to retain these seats.

“It is very difficult to point out any one factor that leads to change in government every five years. One of the primary reasons is that there is an overall lack of satisfaction with the incumbent government and that it has not performed as per their expectations and needs. There is a leadership issue and in terms of organisational strength BJP had a distinct edge over Congress in 2008 and 2013. The anti-incumbency has been mainly against local MLAs and leaders. Gehlot remains the tallest leader of the state even today and people are overall satisfied with his work. But there is disenchantment at the local level,” said Sanjay Lodha, a political expert and co-ordinator of Lokniti-CSDS Survey Rajasthan.

Rajasthan exhibits a diverse political and geographical landscape, divided into six distinct regions, each with its unique character. Mewar, encompassing districts like Udaipur, Rajsamand, Chittorgarh, Dungarpur, and Banswara, stands out with a significant tribal population and historical political dominance. Shekhawati includes districts such as Churu, Jhunjhunu, and Sikar, contributing to the state’s political tapestry. Bikana comprises Bikaner, Ganganagar, and Hanumangarh, while areas like Jaipur and Dausa fall under the Dhundhar region. The Brij region includes Bharatpur, Dholpur, and Karoli, and Marwar encompasses districts like Jodhpur, Pali, Sirohi, Jhalod, Barmer and Jaisalmer.

The so-called forwards (including Jats, Rajputs, Brahmins, and trading communities) comprise 20-22% of the electorate, the Other Backward Castes – Jats, Yadavs, Gujjars, Sanghis, constitute 45-50%, the Scheduled Caste is 16 to 17%, the Scheduled Tribes has 13% while Muslims constitute 9% in Rajasthan. According to the experts, among the so-called “forwards,” the BJP secures a substantial 60% support, while the Congress has only 20%. Smaller parties garner around 15% of the vote.

In the OBC category, both the Congress and BJP share a significant portion, each securing 35-40%, while other smaller parties and independents get 15-20%, say political experts, while in the SC/ST category, the votes are evenly distributed between the Congress and the BJP with the remaining going to tribal parties like Bharatiya Tribal Party.

Muslims predominantly favour the Congress, with approximately three-fourths of their votes going to the party, as per CSDS analysis of the last three assembly polls. “This has remained almost unchanged, election after election with about five per cent change,” according to Lodha.

Also Read: Rajasthan election: A tapestry of royalty, caste and communism

Jai Mrug, a political analyst and CEO of VotersMood Research and M76 Analytics, said that the BJP has been narrowing the vote share gap consistently in Rajasthan. “In 2008, even as the BJP won 78 seats to the Congress’s 96, it trailed by only 2.5% in votes. In 2013, the Congress won just 21 seats, falling 12% behind the BJP in vote share. Similarly, in 2018, despite the BJP winning 73 seats to the Congress’s 100, it closed the gap to a mere 0.5%. This trend showcases the BJP’s ability to continually narrow its margin with the Congress, regardless of election outcomes,” said Mrug.

Shaktisinh Gohil, Congress MP and special observer for Rajasthan assembly elections expressed confidence in bucking the trend this time. “There is no anti-incumbency and the wave in public is all pro-Congress. During the Covid pandemic, the work done by the government was praised by many, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The pro-poor schemes by the Congress and the people-friendly state budget will all help Congress in returning to power in Rajasthan,” he said.

Nitin Patel, former deputy chief minister of Gujarat and BJP poll co-in charge for Rajasthan criticized the ruling Congress government, claiming they lacked a focus on development and accused them of side-lining women and Dalits in their plans. “We are confident that BJP will form the government in Rajasthan with a clear majority this time. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership at the Centre and BJP in Rajasthan, the state will only prosper. There will be all-round development,” added Patel.

48 swing seats
48 swing seats
BJP strongholds won by Congress
BJP strongholds won by Congress
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