Jaipur: The Congress today scored a perfect three in the Rajasthan bypolls, delivering a major blow to the ruling BJP ahead of several state elections and the national polls next year. The party won the Alwar and Ajmer parliamentary seats and the Mandalgarh assembly segment, all held by the BJP.
- Rajasthan bypolls: Congress wins Mandalgarh Assembly seat from BJP
- Congress defeats BJP in Ajmer and Alwar parliamentary seats
- Rajasthan BJP says bypoll results don't reflect the full picture
"Well done Rajasthan Congress! Proud of each and every one of you. This is a rejection of the BJP by the people of Rajasthan," tweeted Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
Both the ruling BJP and the Congress prepped for the by-polls as they would for a full election, with Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Congress leader Sachin Pilot campaigning hard for the seats left vacant after the death of lawmakers.
The scale of the Congress's victory should be worrying for the BJP.
In Alwar, the Congress won by nearly 2 lakh votes and in Ajmer, the Congress candidate defeated his BJP rival by over 84,000 votes. Despite a rebel in Mandalgarh who snatched 22 per cent of the vote share, the Congress won by more than 12,000 votes.
"We are committed to Rajasthan's development....now we have to work very hard," said Ms Raje in a tweet.
Her party asserted that the results do not reflect a national trend. "We are going to study the reasons, but bypolls don't reflect the full picture," said BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya.
The BJP and Vasundhara Raje went all out in their campaign to retain the seats, with the Chief Minister dividing her time between Ajmer and Alwar in the final weeks.
The party assesses that Rajput anger over the film Padmaavat and the cow vigilante attacks in Alwar may have damaged its prospects.
In the high-voltage run-up to the by-polls, the Congress accused the BJP of trying to polarize voters and doing nothing to stop attacks on Muslims in incidents mostly linked to cow vigilantes.
Sachin Pilot said the polls mark his party's comeback in a big state at an important point in national politics.
"The people have rejected the Vasundhara Raje government and its policies. Young people have realized that the politics of polarization doesn't work," said Sachin Pilot, who had lost the Ajmer seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha election in which the Congress failed to win a single seat in Rajasthan.
Mr Pilot had shifted to Ajmer after his family bastion Dausa became a reserved seat in 2009. But he lost to Sanwar Lal Jat, who died last year.
All three seats are linked to Rahul Gandhi's top lieutenants in Rajasthan - Mr Pilot, CP Joshi and Jitendra Singh Bhanwar.
Party leaders like Milind Deora said election results not just in Rajasthan, but also in Gujarat - where the Congress came second but managed just a 10-seat gap with the BJP - are a "manifestation of rural distress in the economy".