Lok Sabha elections 2019: Congress fortress Nagaur faces Jat leader challenge
Victory for Beniwal will catapult him into an undisputed Jat leader, while his loss would mean that the powerful farming community is still with the Congress.Updated: May 05, 2019 14:00 IST
Even before the dust of RLP-BJP candidate Hanuman Beniwal’s helicopter could settle in Khel Maidan in Khinvsar, there was a rush of youth towards him to take a selfie with him. More than 35 kms away in Nagaur city, Congress candidate Jyoti Mirdha sweats out for over four hours in evening heat wave in a roadshow, getting tepid response. The contrast in a way sums up the contest in northern Rajasthan’s Nagaur Lok Sabha constituency, one of the high-profile constituencies in the second phase of Rajasthan elections.
Victory for Beniwal will catapult him into an undisputed Jat leader, while his loss would mean that the powerful farming community is still with the Congress.
Nagaur had been a fortress of the Congress after Independence, which has won most number of times from the constituency. The party’s strong Jat leaders were Nathu Ram Mirdha and Ram Niwas Mirdha. Jyoti is the granddaughter of Nathu Ram Mirdha and is contesting for retaining the legacy. She was the MP from here in 2009 and lost in 2014.
Beniwal is an MLA from Khinvsar and founder of RLP . He got about 1.5 lakh votes in 2014 LS polls and his party won three assembly seats, mostly from Jatdominated constituencies in 2018 state polls. He has emerged a strong voice for younger Jat population in the state.
But this constituency is not just about Jats. Of the 19.24 lakh voters, Jats are around 4 lakh and among other prominent castes, Rajputs constitute about 2 lakh, Brahmins and Vaishyas 1.50 lakh, scheduled castes about 3.5 lakh and Muslims about 2.5 lakh.
“I have worked for all communities and have never worked against any section,” said Beniwal at a rally. He raised slogans for local deities of all communities to showcase that he does not want to represent only Jats, his traditional vote bank. “I protested for farm issues which benefitted all castes. I am a Jat but everyone votes for me.” He claimed the BJP opted for him as he was the most formidable Jat leader, whose support they needed to defeat the Congress. “Hanuman’s power is not of his, but of you (voters),” he said.
Mirdha is seeking votes from all saying the Congress does not believe in differentiation on caste and community lines. “The candidate (Beniwal) is not from BJP ideology and people will vote against him. He has insulted Nathu Lal Mirdha ji and I don’t want to repeat his words,” she said at a rally at Choti Khatu, trying to invoke her family legacy. “A few months ago, Beniwal ji said both Congress and BJP were thieves. First, he came to the Congress and and is now with BJP. It is difference between kathni and karni mein fark (difference in what he says and does).”
As there does not appear to be any wave, the polls are all about social engineering. Political experts believe the candidate who can gather maximum votes from Jats, Rajputs and SCS will win. Locals believe Beniwal with his hold and following of PM Narendra Modi is having an upper hand in Khinvsar, Nava and Jayal; while Mirdha is strong in Deedwana, Parbatsar, Deedwana and Makrana.
“The people have made up their mind and the vote is for the country,” said Om Prakash, a youth in Khinvsar. He added that Beniwal would get a share of BJP votes, which he never got in last elections from this area.
In Nagaur, Prakash Choudhary, a shop owner who criticised the Congress for not waiving farm loans, faced a counter from a farmer. “I had taken Rs 15,000 from a cooperative and it has been waived,” said the farmer.
The winning formula for Beniwal, besides Modi’s nationalism and RLP’S voters, is hope of getting support from Rajputs. For Mirdha, it’s the traditional Congress vote bank, such as Jats, SC/ STS and minority.
First Published: May 05, 2019 14:00 IST