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Rajput group shuns BJP

Pratap Foundation - a body represented by Rajputs - has decided not to support the BJP in what is seen as a major blow to the party in Rajasthan.
PTI | By Indo-Asian News Service, Jaipur
UPDATED ON APR 03, 2004 01:52 PM IST

An influential group of the Rajput community in Rajasthan has decided to vote against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in what could be a major blow for the party in the state.

"The announcement of the Pratap Foundation - a body represented by Rajputs - that it will work towards defeating BJP candidates is bound to put the party in difficulty in the state," said BK Jha, a political analyst.

Foundation convenor Bhagwan Singh has said his organisation had decided to support individuals and not political parties in the state.

India's largest state of Rajasthan will hold elections to its 25 Lok Sabha seats on May 5.

Pratap Foundation said it would work against official BJP nominees as that party had 'cheated' the Rajput community by allotting them only two seats as against seven for Jat community candidates.

The community had overwhelmingly supported the party in the December assembly polls in which the BJP won 120 out of 200 seats.

The Rajputs are a dominant force in regions like Barmer, Nagaur, Bhilwara, Udaipur and Jhunjunu.

BJP candidates from these areas particularly would find the going tough without the support of the community, Jha said.

He said Finance Minister Jaswant Singh's son Manvendra Singh who is contesting from Barmer constituency was banking on the support of Pratap Foundation this time. But the latest development has made things difficult for him. The Congress has fielded former MP Colonel Sonaram, who is a Jat, from Barmer.

Pratap Foundation and Devi Singh Bhati's Samajik Nyaya Manch (SNM) have been fighting for reservations to the economically backward among upper caste Rajputs.

Bhati is also a Rajput. However, the two outfits have remained in different political camps. The Pratap Foundation has generally supported the BJP while SNM is a political party in its own right.

"The decision of the foundation not to support BJP candidates has come as a shock for the party," Jha added.

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