Assembly elections: Ashok Gehlot's populist schemes failed to get him votes in Rajasthan
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From 96 members in the outgoing Assembly, the Congress is down to 21 an all-time low in the party's history. The landslide win for the BJP, which bagged 162 of the 199 seats that went to polls, has come despite the many populist schemes launched by the Congress government led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
"We did something for every section of society and made sure no one was left out... If we do not win despite giving good governance, we do not know what needs to be done. It is now a matter of introspection," said Gehlot, as he submitted his resignation later in the evening.
In more humiliation for the party, key ministers like Urban Development and Housing Minister Shanti Dhariwal, Tourism Minister Bina Kak, Revenue Minister Hemaram Choudhary, Health Minister Duru Miyan, Transport and Home Minister Virendra Beniwal, Minorities Minister Amin Khan, Assembly Speaker Deependra Singh were all defeated. The only saving grace was Gehlot's victory in Sardarpura by 18,478 votes.
State Congress president Chandrabhan was also defeated in Mandawa. Despite the party high command's reluctance to field him, Chandrabhan had insisted on a ticket, nudging out sitting MLA Rita Chaudhary, who later turned rebel. By afternoon, Chandrabhan resigned from the post of state party president.
Internal rifts played a big role in the Congress party's abysmal show in the state. The party high command's bid to appease the regional satraps did not work out. Minister Rajkumar Sharma, who was dropped due to a tussle between Gehlot and Jat strongman Sis Ram Ola, emerged victorious as an independent from Nawalgarh. Another Jat leader Col Sonaram Choudhary, who spoke out against Gehlot over the refinery issue, lost to the BJP's Kailash Choudhary in Baytoo, while Revenue Minister Hemaram Choudhary also lost his seat in Gudamalani.
The voters also rejected the relatives of tainted ministers fielded by the Congress. Leela Maderna, wife of former minister Mahipal Maderna, and Amri Devi, mother of legislator Malkhan Singh Bishnoi, lost in Osian and Luni respectively, seats that are considered to be traditional Congress strongholds. Both Maderna and Bishnoi are accused in the Bhanwari Devi rape and murder case. Hazarilal Nagar, brother of former minister Babulal Nagar, who was recently named in a rape case, also lost from Dudu.