Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Rajput Anger Spills Across Constituencies Over Parshottam Rupala's Anti-Rajput Comments

Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Rajput Anger Spills Across Constituencies Over Parshottam Rupala's Anti-Rajput Comments

Rupala's remarks have snowballed into a major controversy across the three states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat.

Rashme SehgalUpdated: Thursday, May 02, 2024, 11:58 AM IST
article-image

Jaipur: The simmering Rajput anger can be felt in full force in Gujarat where 26 constituencies will go to polls in the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

A protest sabha was organised on May 1st in the Limbdi assembly constituency, where over 30,000 Rajputs had gathered to protest against the anti-Rajput comments made by BJP heavyweight candidate Parshottam Rupala, known to be close to the prime minister. Rupala had muddied the waters by stating that Rajput rulers had collaborated with the British and that they were not averse to their women getting married to the British.

Rupala's remarks have snowballed into a major controversy across the three states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat. Several representatives of the Rajput community had demanded the withdrawal of his candidature from Rajkot but when this did not happen, protests erupted across Saurashtra.

Rajputs: One Of The Loyal Pillars Of The BJP

The Rajputs were considered one of the loyal pillars of the BJP, who enabled the party to establish its hegemony across north India along with the Brahmin and Bania communities.

The situation has altered dramatically in the last few weeks and the community, which has a sizeable presence across these states, has sworn to boycott the elections rather than cast their vote in favour of the ruling dispensation.

Dr. Mahesh Rajput, leader of the Rajput community in Rajkot, seen as the epicentre of the movement, said, "Our women were so angry at Rupala's statement that they were willing to commit Jauhar (self-immolation). We had to come out and pacify them. A community which has made so many sacrifices for the nation is now being accused of being in league with the British."

Statement By Rajput Youth Leader

Rajput youth leader Abhishek Som from Uttar Pradesh is equally forthright. "The government wants to sideline us politically. We would rather give our vote to (Asaduddin) Owaisi but not to the BJP. After independence, we lost our princely states, and now they want to snatch our power. We will not spare them."

"The BJP took us for granted presuming we would not cast our vote in favour of the Congress or the Samajwadi Party. At the Saharanpur mahapanchayat, we made a joint promise never to return to the saffron party. Pran jaaye par vachan nahi jaayega (Life may end, but promises will not)," Som added indignantly.

This anger was palpable during electioneering in western Uttar Pradesh, where several BJP Rajput stalwarts, including Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Gen VK Singh (retd), were despatched, to mollify the community but their efforts came to nought.

Gen VK Singh visited Ghaziabad twice to cool down the frayed tempers of the town's six-lakh-strong Rajput population. But the irony of Singh extending an olive branch was not lost on his brethren, since he himself has been denied a ticket from the Ghaziabad constituency which he had won with a five lakh margin in 2019. Instead, the ticket had been given to Atul Garg, a Bania candidate.

In neighbouring Gautam Buddha Nagar, in the village of Bisada, where Mohammed Akhlaq was lynched a decade ago on suspicion of cow slaughter, the mood is despondent. This Rajput dominated village about 60 km from Delhi has built an impressive welcome gate with a statue of 16th century Rajput king Maharana Pratap.

"The residents here are upset as they had hoped the LS ticket would be given to a Rajput candidate," Said Naresh Tomar, a farmer owning six buffaloes.

"The ticket was given to Dr Mahesh Sharma who has never visited his constituency even once. We are also upset that the BJP repeated Sanjeev Balyan from Muzzafarnagar despite him making several casteist remarks about Rajputs. No action was taken against him," He added.

Yogi Adityanath's Connection With The Rajput

Many Rajput leaders believe that their tallest leader Yogi Adityanath has been systematically sidelined by the ruling dispensation. The Rajputs openly state that their 'andolan' enjoys the tacit support of the Yogi government; otherwise the UP police would not have allowed these mahapanchayats to take place.

"Yogi himself does not want BJP to win more than 40 seats in UP. If the BJP gets a robust majority in the state, he will be sidelined. Look at how two of our most popular Rajput leaders of western UP -- Sangeet Singh Som and Suresh Rana -- have been denied tickets in western UP," Pushpendra Singh, another Rajput leader, pointed out.

The Rajput Karni Sena's president Mahipal Singh Makrana has also been holding rallies across Rajasthan.

The problem in Gujarat is that the BJP does not want to antagonise the Patidars who comprise almost 18% of the voters whereas the Rajputs comprise around 6.5 per cent of the state's population. The Rajputs are, however, a divided community with upper caste Rajputs at one end of the spectrum while the Thakors and Karadiyas, who have been given OBC status, are at the other end of the spectrum. But the community believes its anger is justified because not a single Rajput has been given a ticket from Gujarat though two OBC Kshatriyas have been given tickets in Panchmahal and Kheda.

The five-term BJP MP, Rajendrasinh Rana, a Rajput, was denied a ticket in 2014 and remains on the periphery. Currently there is only one Rajput from Gujarat in Parliament -- Kesridevsinh Zala of the Wankaner family, who was elected to the Rajya Sabha last year.

This rising tide of Rajput anger is not going to abate soon. Given their record of tenacity, they will fight till they succeed in reclaiming their political space.

Rashme Sehgal is an author and an independent journalist.

RECENT STORIES

Supreme Court To Hold Special Lok Adalat To Resolve Highly Contested Cases Of Matrimonial Disputes

Supreme Court To Hold Special Lok Adalat To Resolve Highly Contested Cases Of Matrimonial Disputes

Troops From Trishakti Corps Of Indian Army Undertake Rescue Of Tourists Stranded In North Sikkim;...

Troops From Trishakti Corps Of Indian Army Undertake Rescue Of Tourists Stranded In North Sikkim;...

J&K: Security Forces Conduct Search Operations in Maraha Forest After Gunshots Heard In Poonch;...

J&K: Security Forces Conduct Search Operations in Maraha Forest After Gunshots Heard In Poonch;...

Independent Filmmakers To Be Empowered With Decentralised Crowdfunding Platform

Independent Filmmakers To Be Empowered With Decentralised Crowdfunding Platform

Video: Dead Rat Found In Hershey's Chocolate Syrup Ordered From Zepto

Video: Dead Rat Found In Hershey's Chocolate Syrup Ordered From Zepto