It was a year of ups and downs for the ruling Congress in Rajasthan. Barely six months after dislodging the BJP government in the state, the party failed to win even a single seat in the Lok Sabha elections. But it gained some of the lost ground by consolidating its position in the civic body polls and winning one of the two seats in the assembly bypolls.
Congress candidate, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, was elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha from the state, after a bypoll necessitated by the death BJP's state president Madan Lal Saini. The gang rape of a woman in Alwar in front of her husband, acquittal of all six accused in the Pehlu Khan lynching case, a legislation to check mob lynching, the controversy over the film, "Panipat", and the death of nearly 20,000 migratory birds in India's largest inland saline lake of Sambhar also made headlines.
A local court awarded death penalty to four convicts in the 2008 Jaipur blast case, in which over 70 people were killed. Just months after coming to power in the state, the Congress in a Lok Sabha debacle conceded 24 of 25 seats in Rajasthan to the BJP. The Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, which fought from Nagaur in alliance with the saffron party, bagged the 25th seat.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's son Vaibhav Gehlot lost his maiden contest from Jodhpur, a constituency represented by the Congress chief minister five times since 1980. Gehlot had to face criticism for "only focusing on Jodhpur". He, however, put the blame on PCC chief and deputy CM Sachin Pilot, saying he should take the responsibility for the defeat of his son.
Chief Minister Gehlot and his deputy Pilot continued to have an uneasy relationship when the latter in an apparent jibe at the CM said the law and order situation has deteriorated at many places in the state. Pilot also questioned the decision of allowing unelected people contest for the posts of mayor in the state.
Two ministers -- Ramesh Meena and Pratap Singh Khachariyawas -- too expressed apprehensions about the decision, saying there could be resentment among party workers. The government had to clarify that unelected councillors could contest for the mayoral post only in special situations. Later, the Congress put up a good show in the civic body polls and won one of the two assembly constituencies where bypolls were held in October.
The ruling Congress got a shot in the arm when six Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs joined the party in September, a development described as "betrayal" by Mayawati. Rajasthan also became a destination for the party MLAs from Maharashtra in November amid the political impasse over the government formation in that state.
They spent five days at a luxury resort in Jaipur in a bid to prevent defection in the party. The Pehlu Khan lynching case of 2017 was once again into the limelight when an Alwar court in August acquitted all six accused, giving them the benefit of doubt. Pehlu Khan (55), his two sons and others were transporting cattle in April 2017, when they were thrashed by a mob near Behror in Alwar district.
The state government challenged the verdict in the High Court and got a legislation against mob lynching and honour killing passed in the assembly. In Alwar, a Dalit woman was gangraped by five in front of her husband in April. The accused had also made a video of the incident and circulated it on social media.
Later, the victim was appointed a constable in the Rajasthan Police. The Sambhar lake near Jaipur witnessed deaths of nearly 20,000 migratory birds in November. Botulism was stated to be the cause of the mass deaths. The removal of "Veer" from the name of Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in school textbooks triggered a controversy.
In Class 10 social science book, he was described as someone who "plotted" the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and furnished an apology for clemency from the British. The controversy over the film, "Panipat", erupted when Tourism Minister Vishvendra Singh and other Jat leaders accused the film-makers of wrongly portraying Maharaja Surajmal, a legendary ruler of Bharatpur. The Jat community demanded a ban on the film.
The state government sought a response from the film producers, who informed the government about their decision to edit portions of the film. Amid protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot led a peace march in Jaipur, announcing not implement the CAA and the NRC in the state.
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