The 2023 Rajasthan election explained

Abhay Regi Illustrations by Paramjeet Singh
24 November, 2023

Rajasthan is due for polls on 25 November, pitting the incumbent Congress government of Ashok Gehlot against a resurgent Bharatiya Janata Party and a plethora of smaller parties and independent candidates who often find favour with voters in the state. An electorate of 5.26 crore voters, with 200 constituencies in 53 districts, and 1,875 candidates facing off during the polls, make elections in the desert state a chaotic affair. Here, The Caravan breaks down the key parties, regions, candidates and constituencies of the polls.

The Contenders

Rajasthan is among the states most prone to anti-incumbency in the country, electing alternate Congress and BJP governments since 1993, when the saffron party won its first full five-year term, under Bhairon Singh Shekhawat. Ever since, the two party’s fates have been tied to their principal leaders, who have traded the chief ministerial post back and forth—Gehlot for the Congress, and Vasundhara Raje for the BJP. If the anti-incumbency trend were to continue, this election could be a shoo-in for the BJP, but several factors stymie such an easy explanation of the state’s political future.

To begin with, all three of the country’s other most anti-incumbency prone states—Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Kerala—broke the trend of alternating parties with the re-elections of Parkash Singh Badal in 2012, J Jayalalithaa in 2016 and Pinarayi Vijayan in 2021, respectively. The reigning Gehlot government seems to have pulled pages from each of their books to avoid anti-incumbency: seeding division among the opposition as in Punjab; announcing a slew of welfare measures as in Tamil Nadu; and managing crises like the COVID-19 pandemic relatively effectively as in Kerala.