Jaipur, Dec 16: The year 2014 saw a resurgence of BJP in Rajasthan as it made a clean sweep of all the Lok Sabha seats at stake and dominated the polls to the civic bodies while the government introduced key schemes related to skill development, infrastructure and growth.
However, it suffered some setback in the assembly bypolls when it lost three out of four seats. BJP's good show in the Lok Sabha elections not only left nothing for Congress to cheer about but also did not spare leaders like BJP rebel Jaswant Singh, who contested as an Independent against the saffron party's candidate.
Analysts said it was 'Mission-25' (an aim to win all the 25 seats) of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje after the Assembly election results last year that motivated the party workers to help it win all the seats. All the candidates fielded by BJP, including four sitting legislators, and ace shooter and Olympian Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, went on to win the elections.
Sitting MLA Sanwarlal Jat, who was also a minister in Raje Cabinet, defeated state Congress chief Sachin Pilot in Ajmer whereas former Congress leader Col Sonaram, who defected to BJP before ticket announcement, won the keenly watched seat of Barmer drubbing Jaswant.
Jaswant's decision to contest as an Independent after being denied a ticket not only pushed himself to the wall but also brought trouble for his MLA son Manvendra Singh who was suspended by the party from its primary membership. After losing the polls, the 76-year-old former External Affairs Minister is now battling for life in a hospital in Delhi following critical head injury suffered after a fall.
Congress candidates including Girija Vyas, Bhanwar Jitendra Singh, Namonarain Meena and Chandresh Kumari, who were ministers at the Centre, faced humiliating defeats. Despite the huge success, BJP, however, suffered a jolt in bypolls when its tally reduced to 160 from 163 (in a house of 200) as it lost three out of four assembly seats.
Congress surprisingly wrested the three seats. However, BJP regained the lost ground by winning maximum civic bodies.
"The party's overall performance was excellent and we returned to power in the state in December last year because of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's works in her earlier term and we repeated the success in General election in May," Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria told PTI. "People voted for good governance and showed faith in the party," he said.
The Raje government amended labour laws and took many decisions aimed at improving infrastructure and growth and also skill development.
The key labour reforms included amendments to the Contract Labour Act, 1970; Apprentices Act 1961; Industrial Dispute Act 1947; and Factories Act 1948; which were aimed at creating employment opportunities through greater investments and at easing the conduct of business in Rajasthan.
The state also launched the country's biggest skill training project aimed at creating job opportunities for the youths of the state. Under the Rs 398-crore project, 75 per cent funded by the Centre and 25 per cent by the state, three-month long modern skill training in 19 sectors will be imparted to candidates by 43 companies, said Gaurav Goyal, MD of Rajasthan Skill and Livelihood Development Corporation.
The government has promised 15 lakh jobs in five years in the state. The Chief Minister also announced renegotiating the oil refinery project with HPCL saying that the previous Congress dispensation offered huge interest free loan, land and resources but the government will have only 26 per cent equity in the project.
After taking over reins of power for the second time, Raje introduced a special campaign 'Sarkar Apke Dwar' (government at your doorstep) under which the chief minister, ministers and senior officers take up the task of visiting districts under various divisions to redress public grievances.
On Independence Day, the government relaunched the ambitious Bhamashah scheme to empower women financially. "Several important announcements like development of 20,000 km roads and making of an East-West corridor have also been made by the government on which work has started.
The decision taken this year will make Rajasthan a progressive state," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rajendra Rathore said. The Opposition Congress accused the government of working revengefully and deliberately discontinuing and limiting the schemes like free medicines, pension schemes initiated by the former Ashok Gehlot government.
"All the welfare schemes were discontinued by the government and no remarkable work was done by the government this year. The government could have done well for public welfare but despite getting a strong mandate, the government failed to act," Gehlot said.
Pilot also claimed that he was made an accused in the alleged irregularities in operating 108-ambulance service as a revengeful act of the government.
"I was named in the case just because I am PCC chief. The government did nothing for the state and the people in the entire year and made such attempts with political vendetta," Pilot said.
Congress MLA Bhanwar Lal Sharma had to face action for criticising Rahul Gandhi after the Lok Sabha poll debacle. He was suspended from the party for calling Gandhi 'MD of a team of jokers'. Former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Kalyan Singh took charge as governor of Rajasthan in September.
Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik was officiating as governor after Margaret Alva completed her term on August 5. Three MPs from the state - Nihal Chand Meghwal, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Sanwarlal Jat - were inducted as Union ministers of state. Controversy returned to haunt Meghwal, who was made a rape accused along with others by a married woman in 2011.
The woman approached a local court seeking revision of the case, which was closed by police, following which the court summoned the accused including Meghwal though he did not personally turn up in the court. The issue gave reason to the Opposition Congress to hit out at BJP and the Narendra Modi government.
BSP MLA B L Kushwal was also in spotlight all for wrong reasons. Fearing police action in a fraud case, he did not appear in the first session of the Assembly and later took oath in Speaker's chamber after getting anticipatory bail from the high court in February. In October, he was arrested after he surrendered in a murder case and is now serving judicial custody.
Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani was on a personal visit to Bhilwara but made news when he went to an astrologer who claimed that she would one day become the President of India.
Camel was given the status of 'state animal' by the state government. With this, the state has two 'state animals' - Chinkara and Camel.
The image of Rajasthan Public Service Commission took a beating over conduct of examinations. The RPSC had to cancel RAS-Preliminary examination held last year even after declaring its results when it came to light that the paper was leaked by a gang. What was more shocking revelation by the investigating agency was that RPSC Chairman Habeeb Khan Gauran had himself allegedly leaked RJS paper from the printing press to help his daughter clear the exam.
Gauran had to resign as the Chairman following the irregularities and sought interim anticipatory bail to protect himself from the arrest. Senior IAS officer B B Mohanty was accused of raping a civil service aspirant earlier this year on pretext of helping her clear the exam and was suspended by the government and also declared absconder by a local court after he failed to appear in the court.
Another IAS officer Lalchand Aswal, former CEO of Jaipur Municipal Corporation, was arrested a day before his retirement on graft charges. In the field of sports, young shooter Apurvi Chandela brought laurel to the country by winning a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Arrests of suspected Indian Mujahideen operatives from the state, atrocity on a woman in Rajsamand who was paraded half-naked on a donkey with face blackened, abduction for ransom of Rs. 2 crore and brutal killing of a seven-year-old boy in Kota by a youth from a well-to-do family, issue of malnutrition in children in Baran district and visits of former US President Bill Clinton to Jaipur and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to Alwar were some other incidents which made news.
Sexual harassment of minor girls by the owner of an illegal mercy home at Jaipur, opposition of Metro rail project in walled city area and inconvenience to people travelling on Jaipur-Delhi national highway due to crack on a flyover in Kotputli were among other events which were in spotlight in the state.