Lok Sabha elections 2019: RLP joins BJP in Rajasthan, Hanuman Beniwal gets Nagaur
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday announced an alliance with Jat leader Hanuman Beniwal’s party in Rajasthan for the Lok Sabha elections. He will contest from Nagaur where sitting BJP MP CR Chaudhary has been dropped.
Beniwal’s entry into the NDA fold has given a strong Jat leader to the BJP which had no Jat face in the Marwar and Shekhawati belt. Jats have a strong presence on parliamentary seats such as Nagaur, Jodhpur, Barmer, Bikaner, Sikar, Jhunjhunu, Pali, Ajmer and Jaipur Rural.
The BJP hopes that Beniwal’s entry will shift Jat votes to the party and help it retain Nagaur, Jodhpur, Barmer, BIkaner and Sikar seats.
Rajasthan election incharge Prakash Javadekar welcomed Beniwal’s Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) into the NDA fold.
Addressing the media at the BJP headquarters here, he said, “We are happy the RLP is with us and we will work together. We have requested Hanuman Beniwal to contest from Nagaur as the RLP candidate.”
He said Beniwal would also campaign for the BJP in other states with large Jat populations, such as Haryana, western UP and Delhi. Justifying the tie-up, Beniwal said he had taken the decision in national interest as there was no third force emerging at the national level and the Congress has to be taught a lesson for its 70 years’ misrule. “National interest is our topmost priority. Given the circumstances in the country after the Pulwama attacks, the youth were putting pressure on us to ally with the BJP.”
Asked about his opposition to the BJP in the past, Beniwal brushed aside old disputes.
“This is the national election and our only aim is to make Modi PM and help BJP win a two-third majority and form the government. Keeping in mind the popular sentiment I have taken this decision. Since I have been a former BJP member and MLA, it was difficult for me to adjust to the Congress ideology,” he said.
However political analyst Narayan Bareth said it is not a win-win situation for the BJP.
Other castes such as Rajputs, Dalits and minorities will rethink their support. Rajputs are seen as BJP supporters but they don’t generally vote with Jats. By bringing Beniwal, BJP might alienate Rajput voters in Marwar, he said.
He said Dalits and minorities who were supporting Beniwal might not be comfortable with his support to the BJP and could move away form him.
“It’s a mixed bag. There could be benefit on some seats and disadvantage on other seats,” he said.
On Beniwal supporting the BJP, Congress spokesperson Satyendra Singh Raghav said it will not make any difference to the party.
“Congress is fighting electing on its policies and ideologies. During assembly elections, Beniwal was contesting against Congress but our government was formed,” Raghav said.
“It is unfortunate that BJP despite winning all 25 seats in 2014 had to compromise and withdraw their candidate.”
In Nagaur, the Congress has fielded former MP Jyoti Mirdha. BJP sitting MP CR Chaudhary was facing opposition locally and with Beniwal contesting, the Congress is likely to face a tough fight.
The Jodhpur seat has become a fight for prestige with chief minister Ashok Gehlot’s son Vaibhav pitted against union minister and sitting MP Gajendra Shekhawat. In fact Ashok Gehlot had first reached out to Beniwal for a tie-up in a bid to secure Jat votes for Vaibhav.
On Wednesday, the BJP had appointed former MP from Jodhpur, Jaswant Singh Bishnoi, as vice president in the state unit. This was seen as a move to garner Bishnoi votes in Jodhpur.
In Barmer, former BJP MP and MLA Manvendra Singh is the Congress candidate.
The BJP has not yet declared its candidate.
It was expected that sitting MP Col Sonaram’s ticket would be cut and the frontrunner for the seat was former IPS Mahendra Chaudhary.
However with Beniwal’s entry, MP Col Sonaram’s son, Raman, is also in the fray.
The other seats to be declared by the BJP include Rajsamand, Dausa, Bharatpur and Dholpur-Karauli. In Rajsamand, former MLA Diya Kumari’s name is being considered as final but here is some opposition from the Mewar royal family.
A BJP leader on condition of anonymity said efforts are on to persuade the royal family to support Diya.
In Dausa, the tussle is between former BJP MLA Om Prakash Hudla and BJP MP Kirori Meena. While a section of leaders are pushing for a ticket to Hudla, who is currently an independent MLA, or his wife, some are in favour of Kirori Meena’s wife Golma Devi, the leader said.
In Dholpur-Karauli, sitting MP Manj Rajoriya could be repeated or a Bairwa candidate will be brought in. In Bharatpur, Ranjeeta Koli and Ram Charan Koli are in the fray for the ticket.