Rajasthan assembly elections 2018: Mumbai businessman throws his hat in ring in Sikar
Rajasthan assembly elections 2018: After unsuccessfully seeking a ticket from Congress, Wahid Chowhan will contest as a candidate of the newly launched Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, started by BJP rebel and independent MLA from Khinswar, Hanuman Beniwal.rajasthan elections Updated: Nov 30, 2018 13:58 IST
A quiet town on the national highway connecting Agra and Bikaner, Sikar is known for its 19th century temples and forts, Shekhawati-style frescoes, and for the past few decades, Wahid Chowhan.
The 69-year-old businessman who was born in Sikar, and is settled in Mumbai, is known as a social reformer. This election season, he is also a poll hopeful.
After unsuccessfully seeking a ticket from Congress, Chowhan will contest as a candidate of the newly launched Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, started by Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) rebel and independent MLA from Khinswar, Hanuman Beniwal.
A charismatic Jat leader, Beniwal has made alliances with parties, including Ghanshyam Tiwari’s Bharat Vahini Party to field 40 candidates in Rajasthan’s 200 assembly seats. Chowhan is no stranger to these parts. He started a school for girls in his home town back in the 1990s.
Read more: Vote share in 2013
Now called the Excellence Knowledge City for Girls, and located on a six hectare campus, it offers free education, including books and uniforms, from nursery to graduation. It draws students from both, Muslim and Hindu communities.
Chowhan claims to have worked as a mason in Mumbai fixing roofs to fund his education. He started out as a businessman selling PVC pipes, and bought real estate in both, Mumbai and Goa. “But I was always keen to return to my roots and do something for people in Sikar,” Chowhan said.
He sold a hotel that he owned in Goa, in 1997, to raise funds for the school. “Bringing Muslim girls to school was difficult. I was accused of spoiling them, and our culture,” Chowhan said. “Today, people complain their boys are not as qualified as girls.”
This is Chowhan’s second bid to contest the polls. He fought the 2013 election on Nationalist Congress Party ticket, but lost. “It is different equation this time. I am getting the support of Jats this time. They voted for the BJP in the last election,” Chowhan said.
Read more: Win map of 2013
Jaipur based senior journalist and political analyst Narayan Bareth said that Chowhan is well-know across faiths for his work. “He has considerable following (because of his work with) girl students. He is contesting from a new party so its electoral impact cannot be assessed, but he is definitely creating a buzz.”
“He has a pleasant personality, and he doesn’t scare any community,” Rajendra Rathore, a businessman in Sikar town, added.
Beniwal was travelling and could not speak despite attempts to contact him.
Jat, Muslim and Scheduled Castes together constitute about 1.7 lakh of Sikar’s total electorate size of nearly 2.7 lakh. The area has 15,000 Rajputs, while Brahmins and Baniya are around 25,000 in number.
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First Published: Nov 29, 2018 23:48 IST