Rajputs, Gujjars, Meenas came out in support of Congress in Rajasthan
The four major communities of Rajasthan — Rajput, Jats, Meenas, and Gujjars — voted in a mixed manner in the 2018 assembly election, which saw the BJP concede defeat, and the Congress return to power after five years.
Traditionally voters of the BJP, the Rajputs supported the Congress, resulting in a big defeat to leaders like Rao Rajendra Singh, the deputy speaker of the assembly, in Shahpura, besides cabinet minister Gajendra Singh Khimsar in Lohawat and MLA Rajpal Singh Shekhawat from Jhotwara. Two prominent Congress leaders from Rajput community, Deepinder Singh Shekawat and Bharat Singh, won.
Rajputs form 6% of Rajasthan’s population and play a decisive role in nearly 30 seats of the 200-member assembly.
In comparison to the Congress, the BJP usually gives more tickets to the community. This time, it gave was around 24 but only eight managed to win. The Congress gave tickets to 13 Rajput leaders, of which six won, which leaders said, was more than anticipated.
Political analysts said the resentment among the Rajputs was clear. In the recent past, the community had raised annoyance on various issues starting with BJP’s treatment of veteran leader Jaswant Singh to whom it denied a ticket in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the row over Bollywood film Padmaavat, inadequate representation in government; and outgoing chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s opposition to the appointment of Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat as state party chief.
The community leaders extended their support to the Congress in the February bypolls, helping them win two Lok Sabha seats and an assembly seat. Raje had stated that the results were a wake up call.
“The Rajput leaders in the BJP who lost were those who were close to the government. A section of the Rajput community has voted for the Congress. This happened in the bypolls in February and has been repeated,” said political analyst Narayan Bareth.
The unhappiness of the Adivasis was also visible in Tuesday’s results. Both the Congress and the BJP were concerned over the share of votes from the schedule tribes, especially in the light of the formation of the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) by Chotubhai Vasava, which contested these elections. The BTP, which contested 11 seats across the state and all four in Dungarpur district, won two seats in Mewar but disturbed the vote calculation of the parties. Of the 25 reserved seats in the state, Congress won 12 seats, the BJP 9, while two each went to BTP and independent candidates.
State Congress chief Sachin Pilot’s presence ensured that the Gujjar community, to which he belongs, supported the party. The community is influential in at least 30 seats, including Dausa, Karauli, Hindaun, and Tonk. The community helped it win 20 out of 28 seats in eastern Rajasthan – together, Meenas and Gujjars comprise 13% of the state’s population. “The Gujjars have traditionally been BJP supporters, but this time because of Pilot, they voted for the Congress,” said Gujjar leader, Himmat Singh.
The Meenas continued to support the Congress, despite leader Kirodi Lal Meena’s return to the BJP. According to Bareth, the community supported the Congress “without looking at the candidate, as they were not heard in the BJP government.”
The schedule castes who comprise of 18% of the state population and are considered to be traditional Congress supporters, also seemed to have voted for the party making it win 19 out of 34 seats.