By-Election results 2017: BJP is set to win Dholpur, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje turf (file)
The ruling BJP in Rajasthan won the Dholpur seat by a record margin on Thursday, in a boost to the party and Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia. The winning candidate, Shobha Rani Kushwaha, is the wife of BL Kushwaha, who held the seat until he was convicted of murder and disqualified.
"This is a victory for the Dholpur family, yes I am their chief minister, the bahu (daughter-in-law) of this place and this is a record win, we have never had such a victory margin in Dholpur before," said Vasundhara Raje, who monitored the election campaign closely from her Raj Niwas palace, where she has camped for over two weeks.
The constituency is home base for the Chief Minister; she belongs to the former royal family of Dholpur and is popular as "Maharani Sahib" to voters there.
The by-election was seen as a test for the four-year Raje government, but importantly, it was a question of pride for the 64-year-old "Maharani".
The BJP's choice of Shobha Rani, 33, a political novice, was a surprise but proved to be a master-stroke. She has won by over 38,000 votes over her Congress rival Banwari Lal Sharma, a veteran who has fought 10 elections from Dholpur but won only five. The BSP, the party of BL Kushwaha, did not field anyone this time.
"In 30 years, the last time it was a big victory was when I won with 24,000 votes, so I am very satisfied," Ms Raje said.
Her son Dushyant Singh, a parliamentarian from Jhalawar, also campaigned exhaustively, focusing on the promise of development.
Sachin Pilot was in charge of the Congress campaign. Every seat counts for parties in Rajasthan with assembly elections due in 18 months.
The BJP now has 163 seats in the 200-member state assembly.