Otaram Dewasi, 48, is Rajasthan’s minister in charge of cow affairs, India’s first-ever minister holding the charge of ‘Gaupalan department’ loses to independent candidate Sanyam Lodha with a margin of 10,253 votes. Mr. Dewasi bagged 71,019 votes, while Mr. Lodha got 81,272 votes.
Lodha was a member of the Congress before he decided to contest the 2018 Assembly elections on his own as an independent candidate.
Dewasi, also called ‘Bhopajj’ (meaning: priest) by his tribesmen, dresses up like a cowherd with a long white cloth on his bare torso, red turban, dangling ear rings and a lathi in hand. He walks like this everywhere, even in the office of Vasundhara Raje, Chief Minister of Rajasthan.
BJP and Raje had promised a separate ministry for cows in its poll manifesto. And with Raje’s victory as CM in December 2013, a separate ministry was created for the protection of bovine considered to hold spiritual importance.
With the BJP suffering losses in three key states, its vote share has taken a sharp dip in Chattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh since the last assembly elections in 2013, but all these votes do not seem to have gone to the Congress alone as other players have also reaped the gains.
There were several instances of violence related to cow vigilantism in the state during Raje’s rule. Most notable was the lynching of Pehlu Khan in April 2017 by cow vigilantes.
The Congress emerged as the single-largest party in Rajasthan in Tuesday’s vote count, winning 99 seats. Its ally Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) won one seat taking the total to 100 seats—101 is the majority mark.
The BJP got 73 seats, and the Bahujan Samaj Party won 6 seats. BSP leader Mayawati on Wednesday pledged support for the Congress. The CPI(M) got two seats, Independents won 13 and other parties got 6, according to the state Election Commission.