The ongoing farmers protest seems to be driving a wedge in the alliance between the BJP and the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party in Rajasthan. Nagaur MP Hanuman Beniwal, national convenor of the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, has backed the ongoing farmers protest in Delhi, saying he is ready to join the stir along with 4-5 lakh farmers from Rajasthan.
Beniwal, founder of RLP, has openly opposed the new farm laws and has warned that he will participate in the ongoing farmers’ agitation if the controversial laws are not withdrawn. Beniwal had formed an alliance with the BJP ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP had given the Nagaur seat to Beniwal who won on his party ticket.
However, there seems to be fissures in the alliance ever since.
Beniwal has been vocal on the farm bills, saying that his party stands for the welfare of farmers and if the BJP takes an anti-farmer stance, he will not hesitate to quit the alliance.
During his visit to Barmer to address election meetings, Beniwal said RLP stands with the farmers.
“Even though I am part of the NDA, RLP has opposed the farm bills. RLP supports the farmers’ demands and if necessary I am ready to go to Delhi with 3 or 4 or 5 lakh farmers to join the agitation,” he told media.
He said the way the farmers had been stopped was undemocratic. “The government should talk to the farmers. Modi ji (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) should not forget that it is the farmers who have brought him to power. Enmity with farmers will cost the BJP dearly,” he said.
Beniwal has also overlooked the alliance for the ongoing panchayat polls in Rajasthan. The RLP has put up candidates in 17 of 21 districts where panchayat elections are being held. Beniwal has also stated that his party will contest the civic bodies polls on its own.
Beniwal’s moves are being seen as driven by political considerations. Beniwal belongs to the Jat community, a majority of whom are farmers. Beniwal’s stronghold too is in the Jat dominated areas of western Rajasthan.
He is also keen to establish a pan-Rajasthan presence before the 2023 assembly elections in the state and wants to keep his identity separate from that of the BJP. He has said several times that BJP leaders want RLP to merge with the saffron party.
The Rajasthan BJP seems unsure how to handle the situation and is looking at the party high command for directions. State BJP spokesperson Ramlal Sharma tried to clarify the situation saying that the BJP went in for alliances based on need. “We formed an alliance at the centre on the issue of national security. But we did not feel the need for a tie-up for the smaller local elections,” he said.
Beniwal is a former BJP MLA who quit the party after differences with former chief minister Vasundhara Raje. He has openly criticised Raje and accused her of being hand in glove with chief minister Ashok Gehlot. He said he allied with the BJP after accepting the leadership of Prime Minister Modi who has taken a strong stand on the issues of national security.