With 10 months to go until the crucial Rajasthan assembly elections, two of the main contenders in the state – the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress – can be seen stepping up engagement with the state’s electorally important Gujjar community. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Malasiri in Bhilwara, Rajasthan today on the 1111th birth anniversary of Bhagwan Dev Narayan, a folk deity revered by the Gujjar community, Prime Minister Ashok Jehlot declared a public holiday on Saturday, just prior to the PM’s visit, to honor the deity.
Although the PM’s visit was organized by the Ministry of Culture, and both the Center and the BJP denied that there was any political motive behind it, the PM’s speech at today’s event repeatedly referred to his party’s symbol and deity.
While paying tribute to the Gujjar community, the Chief Minister said they are deeply connected to the lotus, which is also a BJP symbol.
Prime Minister Modi said, “Bhagwan Dev Narayan appeared as a baby on a lotus flower, and we (BJP) are associated with the lotus flower from birth.” Then he linked India’s G20 presidency to God.
“It is a sanjog (auspicious coincidence) that we are leading the G20 and its emblem is also the lotus, on which Bhagwan Dev Narayan also appeared. We are with Kamal (Lotus) from the very beginning, and that is why we have a deep connection,” he said.
Gujjars, who make up about 9 to 12 percent of the population and are significant in the 40 to 50 seats in parliament in eastern Rajasthan, are an important electoral bank for both the Congress and the BJP.
“The Prime Minister has undertaken a number of projects for religious and cultural restoration, such as Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Ujjain Temple. We hope that something will be done for Dev Narayan Temple as well. We should not look at everything through a political lens,” Satish Punia, BJP State President he told NDTV.
Gujjar’s family has staged violent protests in the past to demand the reservation and recently threatened to ban Congress leader Rahul Gandhi from entering the state.
“What happened last time won’t happen again. Last time, the Gujjars lost, now they have learned their lesson. Of course, we want Gujjar’s MLAs. Gujjars influence 40 seats. Let’s see what the impact will be,” Vijay Binsla, who has taken the reins of the Gujjar reserve movement After the death of his father, Colonel Kirori Singh, he told NDTV at Dev Narayan Temple.
Sachin Pilot is an individual factor, Mr. Pensla said, and it cannot be repeated in every election.
Meanwhile, Congress is facing a rebel crisis before the elections. Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot have been at odds for a long time, and although there is an effort to highlight unity, both are quick to tease each other with subtle sarcasm.
Mr. Jahlot has set a goal of winning 156 seats in the House of Representatives elections scheduled for later this year, the same number he achieved in 1998 when the big old party took power in the state under his leadership, he hastens to remind.
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