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Raj Kumar Saini, rebel with a casteist cause

Saini has been spitting venom against all the political parties — the Congress, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and his own BJP — for using the poor and backward classes merely as a vote bank and going all out to appease the Jats

punjab Updated: Sep 04, 2018 12:20 IST
Rajesh Moudgil
Rajesh Moudgil
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Raj Kumar Saini,casteist,Loktrantra Suraksha Party
MP Rajkumar Saini(HT File )

By floating his own political outfit Loktrantra Suraksha Party (LSP) at Panipat on Sunday, rebel BJP MP from Kurukshetra, Raj Kumar Saini, has taken the plunge to formally part with the Saffron party and project himself as an alternative to the non-Jat voters in Haryana, a strategy being used by the BJP, duly illustrated by the appointment of a Punjabi, Manohar Lal Khattar, as the chief minister.

Saini has been spitting venom against all the political parties — the Congress, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and his own BJP — for using the poor and backward classes merely as a vote bank and going all out to appease the Jats, the repeated efforts to grant reservation to the Jats by the previous Congress and the ruling BJP substantiating his allegations.

On Sunday also, the BJP state vice-president, Saini, lambasted the BJP for continuing to “kneel before Jats” on various issues.

Saini’s move to float his party comes at an apt time amid anticipation of the state holding assembly polls with Lok Sabha polls, due next year.

Rise in politics

Saini, 66, who comes from a humble background himself, wrote his rags-to-success story. Being the eldest son of a landless farmer in Chhoti Rasor village in Ambala district, he not only graduated himself but also ensured proper education for his siblings. He did farming on others’ land on contract, shifted to a small business and rose in businesses of brick kilns, poultry farms and iron and steel industries in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jharkhand.

From early 1990s, he climbed all steps of the political ladder by becoming a sarpanch (of Choti Rasor village twice) to block samiti member (Naraingarh) to zila parishad member, Ambala; MLA, Naraingarh and now MP from Kurukshetra. He was a minister in the then Haryana Vikas Party (HVP) government led by Bansi Lal in 1996 as well in the INLD’s, which toppled the former.

Vote swinger

Saini’s emergence would indeed swing votes that total at about 12% in the state — Saini majorly dominates Kurushetra district and Radaur and Jagadhari assembly segments of Yamunanagar district; Naraingarh in Ambala and Gohana in Sonepat district. Elsewhere, theirs is a scattered vote. The LSP is also likely to disturb the prospects of INLD-BSP alliance at the hustings.

Prickly ideology

Saini has been vociferous in his demands for 100% reservation for all castes according to their respective proportion, only one government job for a family, no to more than two children, linking of labourers and farmers with Mahtama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) and abolition of Rajya Sabha.

Dominating yet helpful, Saini has often made it evident not to make political compromises for any political gains, though has remained a confrontationist to the core on the issue of backward classes (BCs). His anger spills over the issue of inclusion of Jats in the BCs which he believes, would eventually end by eating up into the 27% quota of backward classes in the state.

Bluntness personified

His supporters like his straight and confrontationist approach, especially his blunt bitterness against the system. He belongs to Saini (a backward class) community and has been a strong votary of anti-Jat lobby. While he does not bother what his own party thought or would do to him, he has had his way as attendance at his rallies has been swelling despite there being no typical political funding or supplies of buses or other facilities.

Loose cannon

Saini may hate to admit it but he has earned quite a few enemies, especially Jats for his inflammatory remarks. His vitriolic outbursts often end up as abusive. While the lenient approach of other political majors like the Congress and INLD towards Jats have been too evident, BJP leaders have made it amply clear as well and even distanced themselves from Saini since day one of his anti-Jat venom.

His political or social opinions notwithstanding, he is largely seen as a loose cannon. Politically, there does not seem to be any takers from among political majors. He, however, has turned out to be a rebel rouser in BJP.

First Published: Sep 04, 2018 12:20 IST