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Rajasthan Assembly Polls 2018: Continued Congress infighting may lead to loss of advantage

By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 01, Dec 2018, 9:25 am IST | UPDATED: 01, Dec 2018, 9:28 am IST

Rajasthan Assembly Polls 2018: Continued Congress infighting may lead to loss of advantage

Desk FnF: The Congress in Rajasthan, which had reportedly gained an edge over the ruling BJP at the start of the election campaign, is losing steam due to constant infighting and factionalism, according to a reportin Mint. 

The report suggests that party leaders and voters in Mewar, a bellwether region, have expressed discontent and confusion over Congress' fighting within the party ranks, as also its inability to project a chief ministerial face.

Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot, two senior leaders of the party, have reportedly been at odds with each other even before campaigning for the state began. The differences also surfaced during candidate selection for the state, which goes to polls on December 7. Moreover, Gehlot's comment that there are over seven chief ministerial aspirants in the state has further confused voters.

"Congress has too many faces and it does not send a good message. Even if we vote for them, we do not know who will become the chief minister," Shankar Lal Payak, a compounder from Bhilwara, told the publication. "We want Congress to come back to power because we are unhappy with the current government but the problem is it cannot keep its (own) house in order. Its own leaders are fighting behind the scenes and one is trying to pull down another," he added.

According to the report, local party leadership has also expressed discontent over factionalism within the party. "We started our campaign early on a high note with (Congress president) Rahul Gandhi’s rallies in October, but there is a view that we have been unable to sustain it," a senior Congress leader involved in party's campaign told the newspaper.

"Almost all our senior leaders are contesting, and barring the two top leaders, none of the other big names are moving out of their constituencies to campaign. Candidate selection was the last straw where all factions were pitted against each other," the leader added.

Several factors — anti-incumbency against the Vasundhara Raje-led government, organisational strength of the Congress, farmer distress and the state's history of throwing the incumbent government out — had pointed towards an advantage for Congress. However, the report states that the local party leadership is no longer confident of gaining a comfortable lead.

BJP smells blood

The infighting within the Rajasthan unit of Congress has presented itself as an opportunity to the BJP, with the saffron party mulling over increasing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rallies from six to eight, according to a RPT by Hindustan Tisme.

BJP president Amit Shah is also planning to camp in Rajasthan till the polling day to address meetings to fend off anti-incumbency, the report suggests.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which had been indifferent to Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, too is supporting her. "It is now a survival issue for them. The RSS cadre has now given up its indifference towards CM Raje and plunged headfirst into the election battle," a senior state BJP functionary told the news daily.

The report indicated that the BJP has regained its lost ground and is in a fighting position now.

On November 27, during the unveiling of the BJP manifesto for the state, Finance Minister and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley had told the newspaper that the "division within the Congress leadership and suspicion among caste leaders will help the BJP".

"The party is all set to turn anti-incumbency to pro-incumbency with Congress not even declaring its chief ministerial candidate for a fear of caste backlash. The BJP has been able to control dissidence better with lesser number of rebels than the Congress," Jaitley had said.
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