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Lok Sabha Elections 2024 : Revolt of the Rajputs is bleeding BJP

With the Lok Sabha elections approaching, the Rajput community in Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh is showing signs of alienation from the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party. Anish Kumar analyses in depth.

Lok Sabha Elections 2024 : Revolt of the Rajputs is bleeding BJP
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First Published Apr 13, 2024, 9:14 AM IST

With just days to go before the first votes are cast in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the Rajput community across Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh seems to be alienated from the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party over a number of issues over which the community feels that injustice has been done to them.

The community has been protesting for a long over the distortion of historical facts with regard to their ancestors like Gurjara Pratihara Samrat Mihir Bhoj being claimed by the Gujjar community as their own. There have been attempts to claim Rajput warrior Prithvi Raj Chauhan by the Gujjars as their ancestor.

The Rajput leaders have been alleging that all these developments are taking place under the nose of the state government and the BJP’s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. A recent controversial comment against the Kshatriyas by Union Minister Parshottam Rupala in Gujarat sparked protests and controversy and escalated tensions. Protesters have been demanding the withdrawal of his candidature from Rajkot.

The protest is being led by the women members of the community, wearing saffron sarees. A video went viral in which the lady police can be seen confronting women protestors.

What did Rupala say against Kshatriyas?

On March 22, Rajya Sabha MP Parshottam Rupala, at a Dalit event in Rajkot, said that the erstwhile 'maharajas' broke bread with the British and also married off their daughters to them.

"... Even kings and royals bowed down to the British, started family bonds with them, broke bread with them, and even married their daughters to them. But our Rukhi Samaj (a Dalit community) neither changed their religion nor established such ties though they were persecuted the most," Rupala reportedly said.

Rupala invited the wrath of various Kshatriya organizations after the video went viral on social media platforms. In Gujarat itself, the Kshatriyas comprise 17 per cent of the population, and they had drifted towards the BJP over a couple of decades.

Under mounting pressure, Rupala apologized for his remark and said: "I had already apologized, saying 'I never meant what I said'. It is a matter of great regret for me that such words came out of my mouth.” The protestors are adamant about his candidature withdrawal. The election is to be held on May 7.

The Rajasthan Scenario

The controversy has now spread to several parts of Rajasthan, wherein the Shri Karni Sena threatened the BJP to change the candidate from Rajkot. The members of the Rajput outfits are galvanizing their caste men to vote against the BJP in the state.

In Rajasthan, the Rajputs have a significant presence and could play spoilsport the BJP’s prospect in the highly contested elections.

Talking to Asianet Newsable, Dr Sunny Kumar, an assistant professor at the University of Delhi said: "The protest started with distortion of history. In the case of Mihir Bhoj, the BJP leaders supported Gujjars despite the fact that he was a Rajput ruler. His descendants say that they are Rajputs. A BJP MP from Delhi/NCR was involved in it."

Similarly, "Prithviraj Chauhan was also claimed by the Gujjars. Suheldev Bains is being claimed by the Paasi community. Rana Punja Parmar was also a Rajput but the Bhil community in Rajasthan is now claiming that he was from their tribe. In all these cases, the BJP was supporting this community,” he said.

According to Dr Sunny Kumar, the protest aggravated when Rajputs were denied tickets from the constituencies they are in the majority like former Indian Army chief Gen VK Singh’s (Retd) case.

“In Jharkhand, there were two Rajput MPs from the BJP. The party denied tickets to them and allotted to other communities. Except for Bihar, the BJP sidelined the Rajput leadership in states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, and Haryana.,” he said.

“Parshottam Rupala’s remark added fuel to fire,” he said, adding, "The Rajputs were not included in the Shri Ram Mandir Trust."

In Uttar Pradesh, the community is irked over lesser Lok Sabha seats despite having a sizeable population of nearly 10 per cent in the western parts of the state. The members got agitated after VK Singh was replaced with Atul Garg, belonging to the Baniya community, in Ghaziabad. In the entire western Uttar Pradesh, which has 26 seats, the Rajputs got only one seat, Moradabad. 

Thakur Puran Singh, a Rajput leader in Uttar Pradesh, is visiting every Thakur community village and raising the issues which he sees as an injustice to the community.

"The BJP is pushing the Thakur community on the edge. They have continuously engaged in distorting the Rajput’s glorious history. They have been denying equal rights in the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) category and now have refused equal representation in Lok Sabha,” Thakur Puran Singh said.

The BJP has pressed Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to pacify the community so that they don’t play spoilsport in the upcoming elections.

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