Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Why is Rajput community revolting against Bharatiya Janata Party in Western UP?

With only a few days left until voting begins for the first phase of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh, it has become a huge hurdle for the Bharatiya Janata Party as the Rajput community, a significant and loyal vote bank of the party, has expressed its resentment over being ignored in ticket distribution.

Thakur and Rajputs constitute more than 10 percent of the state’s population, and now, miffed at being sidelined, these leaders are holding Maha Panchayats across western Uttar Pradesh.

After conducting protest meets in Saharanpur, Meerut, and Ghaziabad, a Kshatriya Swabhiman Sammelan (meet for self-respect) is also scheduled in Sardhana of Muzaffarnagar and Kheda village of Meerut.

Calling it a protest for ‘self-respect’, Rajputs have also pinned the reason behind the wave of protests on the ‘irresponsible remarks made by some BJP MLAs and MPs,’ specifically that of BJP Union Minister Parshottam Rupala’s controversial statement on Kshatriyas entering relationships with the British.

In a recent statement, BJP’s Rupala remarked about ‘roti-beti’ and accused Kshatriyas of succumbing to the British and even marrying their daughters off to the British rulers, which sparked outrage among the Rajput and Kshatriya communities and accelerated calls for his removal.

On April 7th, the Rajput community, along with their leaders under the banner of Kshatriya Swabhiman Mahakumbh, gathered in large numbers in Nanauta of Saharanpur and declared that they would not vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and would punish the party.

Thakur Puran Singh, President of Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan, while addressing the gathering, said, “We will vote for the candidate who will defeat the BJP, across the country.”

The Rajputs are upset with the Bharatiya Janata Party over the fielding of Pradeep Chaudhary, a Gurjar, in Kairana despite his stance on the Mihir Bhoj controversy, and the selection of Atul Garg, a Vaniya, in place of V.K. Singh in Ghaziabad, as well as the sidelining of Suresh Rana and Sangeet Som after the 2022 Assembly polls loss.

On April 11th, a similar Mahapanchayat termed as ‘Chintak Baithak’ by the Kshatriya community was held in Meerut’s Sisauli village, where Puran Singh, while addressing the gathering, said, “This is a fight for our Swabhiman (self-respect), a fight against those who insulted our mothers and sisters. We will not focus on win or loss in this election but only and only on our swabhiman.”

He urged the gathering to either vote for the candidate who could defeat the BJP or not vote at all and sit at home on the day of polling.

“They claim to be nationalists. We brought them (BJP) to power in the name of nationalism, now they are turning out to be true casteists by not giving tickets to Rajputs. They are giving entry to people who insulted our icons,” Puran Singh said.

He accused the BJP of favoring Gurjars despite insulting Mihir Bhoj by inscribing the word ‘Gurjar’ before his name on the statue, which was inaugurated by Yogi Adityanath in 2022 in a college run by the Gurjar community in Noida’s Dadri. The word Gurjar, however, was removed before the inauguration following the outrage by the Rajput community, which later irked the Gurjar community, and since then the feud between both communities has continued to date.

Mihir Bhoj, a ninth-century Pratihara ruler, has become a controversial figure and a base for caste politics in the western region of Uttar Pradesh as both communities, Rajputs and Gurjars, claim his legacy as theirs.

Puran Singh reiterated at the Chintan Baithak, “Mihir Bhoj Gujjar hai ya Rajput hai?” To which the crowd gathered responded in unison, ‘Gurjar’.

A political spectator in western UP, on a request of anonymity, told Maktoob, “These Rajput dissenters are incited by Yogi Adityanath, who himself is a Kshatriya and have resentment over not giving enough political representation to Rajputs.”

“And this vote division along caste lines might not favor BJP which will prove to be a cue for the INDIA bloc in western Uttar Pradesh,” he added.

Adityanath, in an election rally in Kairana and Saharanpur on April 12th, in fact exhibited the resentment indirectly while amplifying the message of the Rajput community by talking about “swabhimaan and samman.”

He said, “Nation’s self-respect is above all. Maharana Pratap fought for Rashtriya Samman and Swabhiman. The fight today is for the same. If anyone tries to invoke caste before you, ask them about their attendance during the Ram Mandir Andolan, when Kanwar yatras were stopped or about the riots in Muzaffarnagar.”

While eight constituencies of Uttar Pradesh, including Saharanpur, Bijnor, Moradabad, Rampur, Kairana, Muzaffarnagar, Pilibhit, and Nagina, are set to vote on April 19th, it will be an interesting show to witness who will retain power.

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