With caste dominating the Uttar Pradesh politics, the Samajwadi Party (SP)-Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) combine is leaving no stone unturned in raking up the controversy around removing the Gurjar prefix from the plaque of ninth-century king Samrat Mihir Bhoj unveiled by chief minister Yogi Adityanath last year as fresh ammo against the BJP.
Though leaders from Gurjar and Rajput communities have settled the issue, the SP-RLD alliance in Jewar assembly constituency of Gautam Buddha Nagar is planning to cash in on the incident this assembly election. Avtar Singh Bhadana, a BJP leader who had joined the RLD a few days ago, threatens ‘Vote ki Chot’ to the BJP on the issue.
“Removing Gurjar from Samrat Mihir Bhoj’s name was not accidental. Our community (Gurjar) was insulted. You have destroyed our identity in the society. I have the responsibility of representing the Gurjar community. CM Yogi was present on the stage. Vote ki Chot kar ke badla lenge (We will hurt them with votes). 700 farmers who died during the protest against three farm laws and the insult of our community will cost the BJP dearly this election,” said Bhadana.
On September 22, 2021, CM Yogi Adityanath unveiled a 12-feet statue of Samrat Mihir Bhoj at a college in Dadri. There was an attempt to remove Gurjar as prefix from the plaque ahead of the event as Rajputs too lay claim on the king as their own. However, later, both the communities did a joint briefing and settled the contentious issue.
Though the statue was unveiled in adjoining Dadri constituency but the row started from Jewar. According to sources, the origin of the controversy began with Karni Sena raking up the issue of Bhoj being a Rajput in Jewar. Opposition alleged that Sena had support of Jewar MLA Dhirendra Singh.
Singh, also the BJP candidate from Jewar, said the development pitch of the Yogi Adityanath government, extended to everyone with a motto of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’, has made the opposition jittery.
#BattleForStates | As Elections in UP Get Closer, Parties Are Trying To Highlight Their Issues On The Ground. News18's @pragyakaushika caught up with RLD's Avtar Singh Bhadana and BJP's Dhirendra Singh To Know More About Their Election Strategy pic.twitter.com/kqVtbeG79I
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“Many people from SP are trying to exploit this incident. Lord Rama and Mihir Bhoj are ‘pujaniya’ for all of us. We are educated people and we know these emotions are exploited for political purpose. These people will be disappointed who have divided this society when results of elections of NCR will come,” said Singh.
He further said the opposition cannot counter the improved law and order and development in the state therefore it fears losing as people remember their tenure fraught with loots, rapes, theft and scams. He, however, says there is no denying from caste politics.
“Those who don’t have issues make caste and religion as their weapon. They use appeasement to divide the society. We have central schemes and everyone has got the benefit irrespective of caste and politics. But we can’t deny caste politics,” said Singh who belongs to the Rajput community.
In a constituency where both communities share equal votes, it becomes imperative for the BJP to address this issue. There are 50,000 Rajputs and equal number of Gurjars and Muslims in the assembly. BJP’s Dhirendra Singh believes that development will drown the caste politics pitch made by the SP-RLD combine. He also said he received 14,000 votes from Muslims last year and expect more this time. The constituency has around 60,000 Dalit and 20,000 Jat voters as well.
Farmers Protest Still a Burning Issue
Voters in the Jewar assembly constituency say they believe there is a fight between the BJP and SP-RLD combine. BJP’s Singh maintains he is a “true farmers’ leader” as his politics began from Bhatta Parsaul near Greater Noida, which saw farmer protests in May 2011 over land acquisitions, while Bhadana, a businessman, says he quit BJP over the three contentious farm laws and has the backing of farmers’ unions and leaders.
“Three agriculture laws were taken back due to electoral compulsions. Around 700 farmers who died in the ‘andolan’ against the three farm laws. I was pained by the farmers’ agitation and indifference of the government against them. I quit the party because of it,” said Bhadana.
Countering his allegations, Singh listed the number of projects that his constituency has received from the Yogi government. “This election is all about Yogi Adityanath’s law and order and investment in the state. ‘Goonda’ and mafias have been taught their limit. We have the upcoming Film City and Fortune 500 companies, which will be the base of employment in north India. Unlike the SP rule, where Yamuna Expressway had witnessed three dozen cases of loot and rapes and scams. Farmers used to sleep on the field to prevent water motor theft. Those were the days of SP rule,” explained Singh.