After protest, Raje govt holds out olive branch for Rajput community
The government is also worried about Swabhiman Sammelan called by its own legislator, Manvendra Singh, on September 22. The event is being seen as an effort by Singh, son of former external affairs minister and BJP veteran Jaswant Singh, to show his strength among the Rajputs.Updated: Aug 31, 2018 13:14 IST
Perturbed by the Rajputs’ protest at a public meeting during the Rajasthan Gaurav Yatra in Jaisalmer, the Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government is reaching out to the community in Barmer, another Rajput-dominated district, before the yatra reaches the border town on September 1.
The government is also worried about Swabhiman Sammelan called by its own legislator, Manvendra Singh, on September 22. The event is being seen as an effort by Singh, son of former external affairs minister and BJP veteran Jaswant Singh, to show his strength among the Rajputs.
The Rajputs seem to be unaffected by the government’s overture, saying it’s too late to assuage their anger.
Panchayati raj and rural development minister Rajendra Rathore came to Barmer on a three-day visit on Wednesday as an emissary of chief minister Vasundhara Raje. He met prominent Rajput leaders in the evening at a hotel to address their issues. Media was kept away from the meeting.
After the meeting, Rathore told reporters that nothing political was discussed. “As a Rajput, I came to meet the community leaders and some old friends,” he said, adding that there was no anger against the government in the community.
However, Rajputs, who attended the meeting, said it was to address their issues primarily to ensure a smooth Gaurav Yatra. In Jaisalmer on August 24, some Rajput men waved black flags during Raje’s public meeting.
The Rajput leaders also added that the government’s olive branch was too late. “Many Rajputs were targeted and harassed for supporting Jaswant Singh in 2014 general elections. Rajput employees were transferred out of the district as retribution for supporting the BJP veteran who didn’t get party ticket in 2014,” said Swaroop Singh Rathore, former BJP secretary who was expelled from the party for supporting Jaswant Singh.
“We asked the minister where he was during the last four years when Rajputs were harassed by the Raje government,” he added.
Ugam Singh Mahecha, state representative of the Rajput Arakshan Manch and district president of the Sarpanch Sangh, said the Rajputs will not be swayed by these last-minute efforts. “We have been neglected for four years. We cannot support the government now,” he said.
Prem Singh Sodha, a Rajput leader who was present at the meeting, said, “We questioned the timing of (Rajendra) Rathore’s visit to us.” He added that the leaders told the minister that they will support the Swabhiman Sammelan called by Manvendra Singh.
Captain Heer Singh Bhati, a senior Rajput leader who skipped the meeting, said such meetings have no meaning as the community has decided to fight for its pride and started preparations for the Swabhiman Sammelan.
Rathore said he was unaware about the sammelan, adding that he believed that no party worker will go beyond the line of discipline. “Manvendra Singh is in BJP and he will work according to party discipline,” the minister said.
Manvendra Singh refused to comment on the developments.
Rajput community members showed black flags to minister Rathore in Barmer on Wednesday evening when he was returning to Barmer from Sheo after attending a meeting.
First Published: Aug 31, 2018 13:14 IST