Modi’s Hate Campaign Bites The Dust in Rajasthan
Hate Campaign Bites The Dust in Rajasthan

by Indresh Maikhuri & Shank Lal Chaudhary

The recent Lok Sabha elections in the country have stripped away the lustre from the Modi brand. For the past decade, Modi was omnipresent - Modi government, Modi’s guarantee, etc. Even BJP’s name was overshadowed by Modi’s. But after the shock from the Lok Sabha results, it seems Modi himself has realized that, at least temporarily, it is wise to keep his name in the background. Therefore, now he is emphasizing on "NDA government" instead of "Modi government."

Several states played a key role in deflating Modi’s vision of 400 paar, including Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and West Bengal. There are also several smaller states and Union Territories where BJP couldn’t even win a single seat.

Moreover, there are states where BJP had almost swept the 2019 Lok Sabha elections but this time, the public did not let it move beyond a certain limit. One such state is Rajasthan.

Rajasthan has a total of 25 Lok Sabha seats. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, BJP achieved a landslide victory in Rajasthan, winning 24 out of 25 seats. The Nagaur Lok Sabha seat was won by Hanuman Beniwal, the chief of Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP), who was in alliance with BJP at that time. Therefore, it can be said that BJP, along with its allies, made a clean sweep in Rajasthan in 2019. At the time when BJP achieved this one-sided victory in the Lok Sabha elections, Congress was in power in Rajasthan.

On November 25, 2023, Rajasthan’s Assembly elections were held. In the 200-member Assembly, BJP won 115 seats and formed the government. Congress, which was ousted from power, won 70 seats. The victory in the 2023 Assembly elections seemed to have given wings to BJP's hopes. Modi and Shah had so much confidence in their charisma that they sidelined many senior leaders and made Bhajan Lal Sharma, a first time MLA, the Chief Minister of Rajasthan.

BJP entered the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in Rajasthan riding on the wave of the landslide victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the success in the 2023 Assembly elections and given this background, the elections in Rajasthan was being considered a cakewalk for BJP.

However, as the Lok Sabha elections drew nearer, it became apparent that the situation was not that easy. From the first phase of the elections held on April 19, 2024, BJP and Modi started realizing that Rajasthan would not easily fall into their lap as it did in 2019. This frustration was evident in Narendra Modi’s rhetoric. On April 21 in Banswara, Rajasthan, Modi gave a speech filled with intense hatred, claiming that if the opposition came to power, they would snatch women’s mangalsutras and gold and give it to those who had more children. This speech was a descent into the depths of hate for a Prime Minister. Several political parties, including the CPI(ML) Liberation and Congress, complained to the Election Commission about Modi’s speech but unfortunately, instead of taking action, the EC forwarded the complaint letters to BJP’s national president J.P. Nadda.

However, Modi’s speech in Banswara made it clear that he felt his ground slipping away, leading him to revert to his old agenda of hatred. Reports indicate that wherever Modi and other BJP star campaigners gave hate-filled speeches, they lost in this Lok Sabha election. The same happened in Banswara, where BJP candidate was defeated by Rajkumar Roat of the Bharat Adivasi Party by about 250,000 votes.

In Rajasthan, although the BJP did not completely collapse, the public halted its one-sided victory chariot. Out of the 25 seats in Rajasthan, BJP won 14, while Congress won 8 seats. It is noteworthy that in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Congress did not win a single seat in Rajasthan. This time, Congress benefited from contesting under the INDIA alliance. The CPI(M), which contested with the INDIA alliance, also won one seat, with farmer leader Comrade Amra Ram winning from Sikar. The Bharat Adivasi Party won one seat, as mentioned earlier. Hanuman Beniwal of RLP, as part of the INDIA alliance, won the Nagaur seat.

The electoral contest in Kota which is the bastion of former Lok Sabha Speaker and BJP leader Om Prakash Birla saw a close contest as the BJP was barely able to win this seat. Another electoral contest worth mentioning is Bharatpur where Congress was victorious given that Bharatpur is known to be the home ground for the current BJP Chief Minister Bhajan Lal Sharma. 

Except Badhmer and Banswada, INDIA alliance proved to be victorious in constituencies wherever the Farmers’ movement of 2020-2021 enjoyed popularity and influence. Coupled with the factor of the historic farmers’ struggle, the issue of Agniveer had also led to resentment amongst the youth. The BJP has itself conceded the fact that they lost in the constituencies where the opposition “spread malicious propaganda” in farmers against the saffron party. The Joint Trade Union platform in the state (excluding the HMS) also released pamphlets in favor of the INDIA alliance. Comrades from AICCTU worked tirelessly on the ground to spread the message amongst the people to support the candidates from the INDIA alliance and vote out BJP. 

Thus, the INDIA alliance posed a strong challenge to BJP in the Lok Sabha elections in Rajasthan, preventing it from making a clean sweep with its hate agenda. It should be noted that immediately after winning the Rajasthan Assembly elections, BJP leaders started orchestrating hate and violence against minorities and dalits. The INDIA alliance and all the pro-democracy and pro-justice forces must stand firmly against the BJP’s communal campaign and oppression of the marginalized sections of society.

The INDIA alliance could have won 3-4 more seats if the seat sharing equation could have been concluded earlier. The Congress leadership was considerably slow in terms of being responsive in the initial stage when left wing parties had made repeated calls for coordination in political activity in the State. The experience of comrades working on ground in Rajasthan reflects that the state’s Congress leadership was slow in its decision making process resulting in considerable confusion.