The Congress Tuesday was set to wrest Rajasthan from the BJP after its candidates were declared elected on 97 seats and were leading on two others out of the 199 that went to the polls. As the Congress hovered around this 99-seat mark, putting together the victories and the official trends, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje submitted her resignation to Governor Kalyan Singh.
The ruling BJP bagged 73 seats, Bahujan Samaj Party won six, Bhartiya Tribal Party won two, the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party three, the CPI(M) two and the Rashtriya Lok Dal one. Independents won 12 seats and were leading on one more as the focus in Rajasthan shifted on who would be the Congress choice for chief minister between two-time CM Ashok Gehlot and the party's state unit president Sachin Pilot.
With three winners yet to be declared, the Congress vote share was 39.3 per cent, half percentage point ahead of the BJP. The newly elected Congress legislators will meet Wednesday morning to discuss this.The All India Congress Committee has sent K C Venugopal as observer.
"The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting will be held at 11 am on Wednesday, in which the elected MLAs of the party will pass a resolution. The observer will seek individual opinions of the MLAs," AICC general secretary Avinash Pande said here. He said Congress president Rahul Gandhi will then be briefed and a second meeting of the CLP held in the evening.
The decision on the new minister will be announced after the evening meeting, he said. In a show of unity, both Gehlot and Pilot, along with other leaders, appeared before the media, flashing the victory sign.
Rajasthan has a 200-member assembly but polling on Alwar's Ramgarh constituency was postponed following the death of the Bahujan Samaj Party candidate. In 2013, the BJP won 163 seats and the Congress 21.
The election was fought hard by both sides, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi themselves addressing several rallies with corruption, 'dynasty' and religion figuring prominently, even as the ruling party tried to showcase its welfare schemes.
In the end, the trend of the state alternating between a Congress and a BJP government seemed to continue. Gehlot was the chief minister before Raje, who had succeeded him.
Thirteen of the state's ministers 19 were knocked out as the results came in. These losers included Otaram Devasi (Sirohi) who was the minister in charge of cow welfare and Yoonus Khan, the tourism minister fielded against Sachin Pilot. Raje, however, retained her Jahalrapatan seat for the fifth time in a row. This time, it was by a margin of 34,890 votes against former party veteran Jaswant Singh's son Manvendra Singh who recently switched to the Congress.
Among the Congress winners are Johri Lal Meena (Rajgarh-Laxmangarh), Madan Prajapapat (Pachpadra), Zahida Khan (Kaman), Ramlal Jat (Mandal) and Prashant Bairwa (Niwai).
BJP's Santosh (Anupgarh), Kaluram (Dag), Sama Ram Garaisa (Pindwara-Abu) and Jagsi Ram (Reodar) also won. Bahujan Samaj Party's Sandeep Kumar (Tijara) and Wajib Ali (Nagar) were among the other winners declared so far. Ashok Gehlot said people had given their mandate to the Congress.
"We will get a clear majority and will also take along other parties or candidates who quit the BJP for us," he told reporters here. If the party fails to cross the halfway mark, in a full House of 200, it needs 101 seats, the Congress is expected to count on the the Bahujan Samaj Party, the CPI(M) and some of the independents.
The winning independent candidates include those who had rebelled when they were denied the ticket by the two main parties.