JAIPUR: The Congress today thumped the ruling BJP in Rajasthan, clinching all the two Lok Sabha and one state Assembly seats in bypolls in the key cow belt state where the saffron party is eyeing a second straight term when Assembly elections are held around December this year.
After making a remarkable turnaround in its electoral fortunes in neighbouring Gujarat late last year, the Congress put up a muscular performance in Rajasthan where its candidates wrested Alwar and Ajmer Lok Sabha and Mandalgarh Assembly seats from the BJP by impressive margins.
Karan Singh Yadav of the Congress trounced his nearest BJP rival Jaswant Yadav by a whopping 1,96,496 votes in Alwar, while the main opposition party's nominee for Ajmer Raghu Sharma beat BJP's Swaroop Lamba by an impressive margin of over 84,414 votes, the state election office said.
The Congress's Vivek Dhakad won the Mandalgarh Assembly seat, defeating his nearest BJP rival Shakti Singh Hada by nearly 13,000 votes. Rebel Congress leader Gopal Malviya, who contested as an independent, failed to alter the outcome.
The defeat for the BJP came days after the release of period film 'Padmaavat' which saw an upheaval of sorts in the state, with the influential Rajput community up in arms against its screening, claiming it distorted historical facts and projected queen Padmini of Mewar in poor light.
Though the BJP government stood solidly behind the Shree Rajput Karni Sena, which spearheaded the protest against the the film, to stall its release, the gesture did not pay off as the party lost the Ajmer seat that has sizeable population of Rajputs.
The recent incidents of vigilantism in the name of cow protection, including the lynching of a Muslim man Pehlu Khan in Alwar over allegations of cow smuggling, appeared to have consolidated the minority community electorate behind the Congress.
The BJP had won all the 25 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state in the 2014 general elections.
The party, which wrested power from the Congress in in Rajasthan in 2013, had 161 MLAs in the House of 200.
With today's win, the Congress's strength in the Lok Sabha has gone up to 48.
Buoyed by the results, a jubilant Congress president Rahul Gandhi hailed the party's Rajasthan unit for its impressive show, calling the outcome a "rejection" of the BJP by the people.
Taking to Twitter, Gandhi said he was proud of each of the partymen in the state.
"Well done Rajasthan Congress! Proud of each and every one of you. This is a rejection of the BJP by the people of Rajasthan. #RajasthanByPolls," Gandhi tweeted.
The bypolls were necessitated due to the deaths of Sanwarlal Jat and Mahant Chand Nath Yogi, BJP MPs from Ajmer and Alwar respectively, and Mandalgarh MLA Kirti Kumari.