JAIPUR: After losing all 25 seats in the Lok Sabha elections in Rajasthan, the bypoll results for two assembly seats have brought some relief for the ruling Congress, especially CM Ashok Gehlot. The seats of Mandawa in Jhunjhunu and Kheenvsar in Nagaur have been shared by the Congress and the RLP-BJP alliance.
The Congress has snatched back Mandawa where its candidate Rita Choudhary defeated the BJP's Sushila Singhda by a huge margin of nearly 30,000 votes, while the RLP retained Kheenvsar where Narayan Beniwal defeated his Congress rival Harendra Mirdha by 4570 votes.
The Mandawa seat has been a traditional bastion of the Congress. The seat was won by the BJP for the first time in the 2018 assembly elections. But Narendra Khichad, who won from here, was later elected to the Lok Sabha.
The BJP had made its Jhunjhunu chief Sushila Singhda the party candidate at the last minute. But this move backfired on the party. Singhda has been associated with the Congress in the past.
Rita Chaudhary, who won from Mandawa, is the daughter of veteran Congress leader Ramnarayan Chaudhary. Rita, who lost the last two elections from here, has been elected an MLA for the second time.
Narayan Beniwal, who won the Khivansar seat, is the younger brother of Hanuman Beniwal who won from here in the last assembly election before vacating it to become an MP from the Nagaur Lok Sabha constituency. Here the BJP continued its alliance with the RLP on the lines of the Lok Sabha elections.
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot's political reputation was at stake in the byelections, with his deputy Sachin Pilot saying that the results will be a testament to how well the state has been governed. The Mandawa victory will give Gehlot a breather.
"Congratulations to Rita Chaudhary, who won by a huge margin in Mandawa by-election. Everyone fought strongly in the Khivansar by-election, where there was a difference of around 55000 in the Lok Sabha elections, while the difference of around 4630 after 5 months is the same as victory for us. Congratulations to the voters of both the regions for giving their blessings to the Congress candidates. Congratulations and thanks to all the leaders, including the election management and the party officials," tweeted Gehlot after the results.
Reacting to the outcome, BJP state president Satish Poonia said the party has won only once in Mandawa. "BJP workers have worked hard there, but Rita Choudhary has won the election and not the Congress as she is the daughter of Ramnarayan Chaudhary. This is not a mandate in favour of Gehlot. The local political equations there and the legacy of Ramnarayan Chaudhary got her the votes," he said.
Political analyst and senior journalist Narayan Bareth says the result is a wake-up call for both the BJP and RLP.
"The RLP has lost its base in the Jat heartland. Its victory margin decreased considerably and the BJP also lost with a huge margin. The Congress is suffering because of its infighting and if the party had fought the election unitedly, the results would have been different in Kheenvsar as well," he said.