For Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, whose four-and-a-half-year tenure has coincided with the long spell of drought, it’s a last-minute reprieve. Rural voters were easy prey to superstition that only a change in CM would propitiate the rain gods. Now, Congressmen are losing no opportunity to point out that every part of the state received excess rainfall except the Baran-Jhalawar region, home of BJP CM-aspirant Vasundhararaje!
Three months ago, Congress spokesman S. Jaipal Reddy wryly remarked that the results of the assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan hinged on the monsoon. While the feelgood element engendered by the rains may not ensure victory for the Congress, it seems to have diluted the anti-incumbency factor against both state governments and improved the party’s prospects. Although Gehlot was credited with running an efficient drought relief operation for 11 months, he was unlikely to have survived another parched summer. The Centre had allocated adequate supplies of foodgrains and Punjab had chipped in with fodder, but there was no way of ensuring enough drinking water. The BJP’s campaign was geared to the drought, with posters of scorched earth and women trekking miles for water. Now, most of the reservoirs in the state are one-third to half full, although some are still at the zero level. The BJP is perforce looking for other issues.