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Rajasthan Assembly Polls 2018: Major issues that will influence the election this year

Disenchantment of the farmers could cost the ruling BJP a hefty chunk of rural voters, similar to what the saffron party faced in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat during the 2017 assembly polls

October 27, 2018 / 04:36 PM IST

Rajasthan, comprising 200 assembly constituencies, is scheduled to go to polls on December 7. Both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress have upped the ante with rigorous rallies.

For instance, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje went on a 40-day Gaurav Yatra that covered over 6,000 kilometres and 165 constituencies. This was read by political analysts as Raje’s attempt at dispelling the impression that she is inaccessible.

However, Raje’s inaccessibility and alleged arrogance are only some of the problems that the government should be worried about ahead of the elections. Let’s take a look at the major issues facing the ruling BJP government in Rajasthan:

Unemployment

Before the BJP won with an unprecedented victory in 2013, Vasundhara Raje had promised 1.5 million jobs, with a mantra “Lathi nahi, naukriya doongi”.

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She made this announcement in July 2013 when the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in the state was facing protests from the youth who were seeking government jobs. At this time, 250 young people had taken out Gehlot’s symbolic death procession as a mark of a unique protest in Jaipur, which eventually led to the police using force to disperse the protestors.

However, the youth feel cheated now as they believe Raje has not lived up to her words. Upen Yadav, state president of Rajasthan Berozgar Ekikrat Mahasangh (RBEM), who campaigned with Raje against the Gehlot government in 2013, is now disenchanted with the BJP government in the state.

He told Hindustan Times that in the four years of BJP rule, around 157,804 government jobs were announced in different departments, but appointments had been made to only 41,800; the remaining are either stuck in courts or the recruitment process for them has not begun yet.

Farm Distress

Farmers in Rajasthan have been discontent with the state government over the execution of their policies and unfulfilled promises.

In May 2018, five farmers from the Hadoti region in Rajasthan had committed suicide over garlic prices hitting rock bottom due to bumper crop. As a result the farmers had to sell their crop at throwaway prices.

Read Also: Continued farmer distress could sway votes against BJP

Farmers committing suicide in Rajasthan was unheard of until this time. The growing ire of the farmers compelled the state government to announce farm loan waivers of up to Rs 50,000 for small and marginal farmers. But this wasn’t enough. The farmers were unhappy with the Centre’s announcement of hiking the MSP (Minimum Support Price). They have demanded that Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations be used in the formula for calculating the MSP as it included the cost of the production from the farm to the market and the presumed cost of land.

This disenchantment of the farmers could cost the ruling BJP a hefty chunk of rural voters, similar to what the saffron party faced in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat during the 2017 assembly polls.

Fragmented Traditional Voter Base

Rajasthan comprises a spectrum of ethnicities and communities, and this diversity has, more often than not, led to conflict.

The conflict doesn’t remain restricted to inter-community fighting, but extends to dissatisfaction with the administration over reservations and quota in government jobs.

The Rajputs are irked with the Vasundhara Raje government for a multitude of reasons, including the release of Padmaavat, sealing the main entrance of Raj Mahal in Jaipur and selection of the state president.

Read Also: The caste dynamics in the state and the race for reservations

The Jats and the Rajputs have been in a race to win more tickets. The Jats are also at loggerheads with the Gujjars over the latter being included into the existing OBC quota and eating into their benefits.

Meanwhile, the Gujjars have been demanding Scheduled Tribe status, which has been awarded to the Minas and, as a result, they have more representation in the bureaucracy.

Social Sector Schemes

The BJP government has also been criticized for cutting back on social security schemes such as old-age pensions, food security and free medicines.

According to reports, an estimated 2.5 million families have been removed from the food security scheme in an attempt to weed out fake beneficiaries. In addition, over 2 million people are unable to access the subsidised rations due to the Point of Sale (PoS) machines not being able to read their fingerprints, indicating that the poor are suffering at the expense of a digital governance.

Read Also: Fissures in the Rajput-BJP relationship could hurt the party

Besides, the Centre’s schemes, which form a major bulk of social security schemes in the state, are poorly implemented.

The ruling BJP needs to buck up before the tables are turned around them and the opposition Congress makes these issues into their poll promises and enchant the electorate.

Click here to read more on Rajasthan Assembly Polls 2018.

Assembly Elections 2018: Read the latest news, views and analysis here
Aakriti Handa

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