New Delhi--The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) defeat in the Rajasthan assembly election was due to "inadequate publicity" of government policies by officials and "tempting" promises like farm loan waiver made by the Congress in its manifesto, said BJP State President and Rajya Sabha MP Madanlal Saini.
A day after the election results were announced, in an interview with HuffPost India, Saini shared his preliminary assessment about the reasons for the BJP's defeat.
"A lot of work in public interest was done by the BJP-led Rajasthan government, something no previous government has managed to do, but adequate publicity about it was not done by officials," Saini said.
Interestingly, a 2017 study by media advertising company Group M found that Rajasthan was among India's top five states to spend taxpayer money on advertising. The study said that Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's government "set aside a corpus in excess of Rs 100 crore for the promotion of its tourism sector" and roped in ad firm Ogilvy & Mather for this.
Speaking on Wednesday, the BJP state President said that carrying out publicity about a government's achievements was not the job of the ruling party alone, but something even government officials must do.
"Whether it is a BJP government or any other party's government, it depends upon officers as well. I am not saying that the officers did no work at all. But the extent to which publicity was needed and the manner in which it could have been done was not done. As an organisation (BJP), we did what could have been done," Saini explained.
In his reckoning, some "historic" and "pro-people" measures implemented under the leadership of Vasundhara Raje included: waiving off farm loans with a ceiling of Rs 50, 000 and compensation of Rs 10 lakh for families of farm workers who die on the job, among other things.
Interestingly, in a pre-election interview, the BJP's election in-charge for Rajasthan, Prakash Javadekar, told HuffPost India that there was a "communication gap" between the government and the voters but it had been addressed.
On his part, Saini also said that farmers may have actively voted in favour of Congress because of its promise to waive off farm loans in full. He conceded that this promise was "tempting" but felt it was one that was hard to implement.
"At least once it (promise of loan waiver) does seem good. With tempting slogans, power can be won but not sustained. They promised that the loan waiver will be implemented within 10 days, we will see. Is Rajasthan's economic condition strong enough to implement their slogans? Only those slogans (and promises) should be given which can be implemented," he said.
In the results for the assembly elections, the Congress party won 99 seats while the BJP's tally came down from a mammoth 163 in 2013 to 73 this time. At the time of writing, government formation was still in progress.