Indian voters are like beloved who love, hate, fight, go away and come back again. This is particularly true when you are talking about Rajasthan. Voter’s love-hate relationship with Vasundhara Raje and Ashok Gehlot continues while the love-story has become a triangle with entry of new suitor Sachin Pilot.
Onion prices broke heart of Marwaris who generally abhor onion and garlic in their diet. Even the veteran warrior like Bhairon Singh Shekhawat could not survive the impact of heart-broken voters. This paved the entry of a new hero in the story in 1998 –Ashok Gehlot. With his humble background and spotless political career, this was a generational change.
Drought loomed large, bottlenecks in infrastructure development and unemployment fueled the fire against Gehlot. When you are short of money, it was twice as hard to keep the beloved voters happy. RTI, NREGS and many other social schemes are mooted. They had all the potential to change the face of social sector in rural areas but did not have that entertainment quotient which is required to keep the voters interested.
Bhairon Singh Shekhawat was recapitulating in the opulent setting of Hyderabad house in Delhi but Jaipur always remained at the centre of his life and polity. Many were trying to be eligible suitor for Jaipur in his camp but he chose to add glamour in form of Vasundhara Raje albeit a repeat of ‘goongi-gudia’ episode of congress, which went disastrously wrong for the veteran warrior. Vasundhara Raje became new darling of voters in Rajasathan. They immediately dumped Ashok Gehlot who performed well but lacked the charm which Raje was offering in her road shows in 2003.
A scion of Scindhia was again ruling Rajputana. Jayappa Scindhia was waiting since 1754 for the moment that his soul would get freed from battle field of Merta when one of his descendent will again rule the Rajputana. Rituals were performed promptly as soon as Vasundhara Raje took over the reins in 2003. Voters were in awe of their new beloved but Lalit Modi appeared as thorn in the flesh. Her expensive and cosmetic approach could not keep voters close for long. Voters again felt ignored, desolated and dumped. Heartbroken again, they fell again in lap of subtle but consistent Ashok Gehlot.
Ashok Gehlot during 2008-13 tried his best to project himself as ‘man with big project’. Metro train was planned in Jaipur but more than that it was the elevated fly over which attracted jaipurities. Refinery for the Barmer crude oil was touted as panacea for problem of unemployment but more than that the game in land prices attracted locals and outsiders alike. The oil certainly changed the face of western Rajasthan but refinery was still far from becoming a ground reality. Focus again was on improving of social sector with introduction of pension schemes for poor, vulnerable and widows. Free Medicine scheme on the line of Tamilnadu model was touted as panacea for many woes but medicine infused through it could not reach the heart of voters in the nick of time.
Vasundhara Raje again took the reins of Rajasthan in 2013 but the heart of voter this time was with the neighbor – Narendra Modi. The euphoria of Modi wave started with the thumping win in Rajasthan. What was more glaring this time that flamboyant Vasundhara Raje not only lacked vision but also the will to implement ideas. She put in more efforts to control and rein in her own coterie and cronies than trying to do efforts for Rajasthan as voters expected. Phone tapping, threats and intimidation became order of the day.
Most of the projects she mooted in second regime were much like her favorite drink – Sherry literary meaning ‘Burnt Wine’.
Marwaris have a taste for concoction of various kinds ranging from 36 spices Chandrahas to milky colored fennel seed extract. But they like their drink fresh; the ‘charred’ one remained out of favor during 2013-18.
But is there any love lost for the lady in the love triangle that is brewing in Rajasthan? Answer is – ‘Its complicated’ and odds are staked against the incumbent lover.