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Biggest Test Of MP Over, All Eyes On Rajasthan Now – Chintamani Shastri

Posted by Admin on November 29, 2018 | Comment


Let me say this openly and emphatically. Shivraj Mama has pulled through. The BJP ran an incredibly energetic campaign in MP, and credit for this has to go to Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Modi was a supporting cast in MP elections.

All through the 15 years, this evidence has shown up in the bye-elections. Even during this tenure, Shivraj Singh generally retained all BJP seats, except RatlamLokSabha seat, which has been a traditional Congress household.

Congress drummed up the issue of farmer distress in a very big way. In fact, it was their single most important issue. However, if you asked any such person in a village complaining about farm distress whether he thought that Congress would be better disposed towards the farmer, we usually met a blank response.

Anti-incumbency against a government is normal. Moreover, if a government were there for 15 years, there would also be an element of voter fatigue. In an election, which does not show up any visible wave this way or that, such anti-incumbency has to reach a critical level before a government can be changed. So we have to ask this question whether such criticality was on display?

Even the worst critics of Shivraj Singh do not accuse him of at least one thing – arrogance. His all-accessible affable personality is a huge plus when he is compared to such elites as Mahārāja Scindia and the Dosco Kamal Nath. The condescending Congress campaign has only buttressed the impression of Shivraj being unfairly targeted by a bunch of elites. Rahul Gandhi’s forays in MP have only strengthened this impression. The Vyapam and Rafale issues have absolutely no resonance on the ground. Even though there are issues of delivery on the ground, I did not meet a single person who doubted the good intentions of Shivraj Singh Chauhan.

If at all there was any disenchantment among the RSS cadre, Kamal Nath ensured that RSS would make this election a question of life and death by making the ill-advised remarks against RSS, and by talking of banning RSS shakhas in public premises.

Given this scenario, I am calling this election for MP VidhanSabha for BJP and I give them a comfortable majority. I had given the following region-wise break-up in the opinion poll:

Mahakoshal (38) BJP 24- Congress 14;

Vindhya (30) 15-12-3;

Bundelkhand (26) 17-8-1;

Chambal (34) 12-20-2;

Nimad(16) 10-6;

Malwa (50) 30-16-4;

Madhya Bharat (36) 22-14;

BJP 130

Cong 90

Others 10

After the elections, and considering the heavy lifting is done by the BJP-RSS cadre, including the usual election eve tactics in full measure, I am inclined to retain these projections as the final projections. The usual caveat is added. So I would call this election for BJP @ 130 +/- 8, giving it a range of 122-138. Congress 82-98.


If MP was Shivraj’s election, Rajasthan is Vasundhara Raje‘s election. However, the two personalities are as different as chalk is from cheese. Their records are equally different. Vasundhara Raje lost the 2008 elections, in which Shivraj comfortably retained MP. In fact, MP elections in 2008 were held even as the 26/11 action was on. Rajasthan elections were held a week after 26/11 in which BJP should have benefited, yet it lost. The jury is out on that verdict. It is usually accepted that but for 26/11, Vasundhara would have lost by a far bigger margin than the final 96-78.

The reason is not far to seek. If Shivraj is the all-accessible Mamaji for everyone, Vasundhara is the quintessential Maharani. She oozes arrogance, inaccessibility, and royalty. She has little connection with the workers and RSS. The result has been there for all to see. She has lost election after election, yet the central leadership has persisted with her because she has been able to game the BJP high command into believing that she would break the party if she was removed. This fear of losing the government has led to a situation that the public has now taken it into its own hands the task of removing Vasundhara Raje.

Jaipur is usually a big stronghold of BJP. In fact, Congress rarely wins many seats here. Yet, there is a wind of change blowing through the city. If Congress had not given 2 tickets in the city to Muslims, an ill-advised policy, Jaipur may have seen 1998 like the situation when the most of the seats in the city voted Congress. I was a student in Jodhpur at that time. I remember vividly when the result for Johri Bazar seat was announced. It was one of the five seats in that election that featured EVMs. Bhairon Singh Shekhawat lost that election because Congress was able to cobble up a unique combination of many big leaders, and Shekhawat lost the pulse of public as charges of Rajput dominance took root. Vasundhara is neither half as popular, nor a quarter as efficient as Shekhawat. She took the Modi wave at its crest and became CM by gaming the then High Command of Rajnath Singh. She started losing bye-elections within the first year. Her performance in the local elections was patchy, marked only by technical victories. The 2018 bye-elections were a big wake-up call. BJP lost 17% vote in the 17 segments that went to vote, losing every single one of them. The constituencies were well spaced out across various regions. It would be fair to treat those bye-elections as a large opinion poll having a sample size of about 25 lakhs.

After the bye-elections, it was expected that the BJP central leadership would give a serious thought to the issue of changing the CM as it was an unanimous feedback from the public, workers and the RSS that the anger was against the CM and not against the party or the PM. At that time, I had written the following in Swarajya:

Her perceived arrogance is not the only criticism that her growing numbers of detractors have. The long list of complaints includes the following:

  • She is inaccessible, even to the ministers and MLAs
  • The public feels that she does not get along with Prime Minister Modi
  • Charges of corruption are freely being made against people close to her
  • A close coterie of bureaucrats takes all the decisions as the Chief Minister is hardly ever available at Jaipur
  • She is completely beholden to her Lutyens’ friends
  • Despite her reformist zeal and radical administrative ideas, implementation of schemes, both central and state, remains mostly on paper
  • While she has taken a tough position against Hindu groups, she has been extremely indulgent towards the Muslims so much that people even derisively call her Begum Vasundhara. Yunus Khan is the only minister with her ears
  • She has alienated most influential caste groupings, such as Jats, Brahmins, Rajputs and Gurjars with her supercilious behaviour
  • The administration is totally centralised in the Chief Minister’s Office. About 50 Indian Administrative Service officers have no work, and a dozen or so are so overburdened that they can hardly function
  • The frequent reshuffling of top bureaucracy does not allow anyone to settle down
  • Her mercurial nature is seen to thwart initiatives that do not capture her mindshare
  • Her coterie encourages sycophancy, like signalling to party MLAs that they have to touch her feet when they meet her. Many MLAs find it impossible to meet and discuss problems of the public with her
  • Before the 2013 elections, a task force was formed by BJP high command under KiritSomaiya. They brought out a black
  • paper on the functioning of Ashok Gehlot government, highlighting its corrupt deals. Under Scindia, an investigation into alleged irregularities in various deals of the previous regime has not been pursued. Some of these controversial deals include Naveen Jindal’s mining projects and Palaciahigh rise. Naturally, the charges of being soft on corruption have stuck to her.
  • Besides, every member of the Somaiya team has either been sidelined or hounded.

Her political outreach campaigns seem to have been designed for the media and not for the public. People detest her royal regalia camping in the best places of the district she tours, usually palaces or heritage hotelsParty functionaries are dispirited and seem resigned to a big loss

With barely 10 months to go before the gong is sounded for the final call, can the BJP salvage its political fortunes in Rajasthan? The state sent 25/25 MPs to the LokSabha in 2014. Modi is well set for 2019, but Rajasthan could spoil the party’s chances and act as the momentum breaker. Can BJP afford such a risk?

So what happened? Precisely nothing. Therefore, BJP is in for a bad defeat in Rajasthan. In the bye-elections, BJP trailed Congress by 14%. There was no Modi factor then. Even if we make an allowance for Modi factor, and messing up of the ticket distribution process by Congress, BJP will still trail Congress by 7-9%. This is sufficient to give Cong 130-140 seats. So I call Rajasthan for Congress, to be confirmed after the actual polling.

BJP: 53-58

Congress: 130-135

I will give detailed region-wise break-up before the polling as an updated opinion exercise.