Gujjars Upset With Gehlot Over Pilot Choice, Congress Turns to Meenas to Make up Numbers
The Congress party has fielded Meenas, categorised as Scheduled Tribes (STs), in non-reserved seats as well. In all, of the 11 candidates declared by the Congress, five are from the Meena community.
File photo of Ashok Gehlot (Image : PTI)
New Delhi: Going through its list of candidates, the Rajasthan Congress appears to have gone back to appeasing the Meena community, its core vote base.
The list of 11 Congress candidates declared so far does not feature even a single leader of the Gujjar community. Moreover, the party has fielded Meenas, categorised as Scheduled Tribes (STs), in non-reserved seats as well. In all, of the 11 candidates declared by the Congress, five are from the Meena community.
The Congress has made a bold move of fielding Meenas from Kota and Tonk-Sawaimadhopur, both general seats. Ramnarayan Meena has been fielded from Kota and Namonarayan Meena from Tonk-Sawaimadhopur. The latter’s candidature is more interesting given that the party’s Gujjar face in Rajasthan was elected an MLA from the Tonk seat in Assembly elections held in December.
Gujjars and Meenas, who together make up nearly one-seventh of the state’s electorate, have traditionally voted against each other -- more so in the eastern belt of Tonk-Sawaimadhopur, Jaipur (Rural), Kota, Dausa, Karoli Dhaulpur and Bharatpur. While the Gujjars are known to favour the BJP, the Meenas tend to vote for the Congress in bigger numbers.
An internal party survey conducted recently indicated the Gujjar community’s growing disillusionment with the Congress, according to sources. The primary reason behind the disenchantment is that Sachin Pilot, considered a Gujjar leader, was not given the chief minister’s position, which eventually went to Ashok Gehlot. According to the survey, this pushed a large number of Gujjars back to the BJP.
This reportedly forced the Congress to go back to its core voters — the Meenas — in order to consolidate them ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. According to sources in the Congress, the party might even field Gujjar leaders from Rajsamand and Ajmer.
Among the other Congress candidates are former Union minister Bhanwar Jitendra Singh from Alwar against former BJP MP Jyoti Mirdha. BJP leader Jaswant Singh’s son Manvendra Singh, who fought the Assembly elections against former chief minister Vasundhara Raje, has been fielded from Barmer. Former mayor Jyoti Khandelwal will fight on a Congress ticket from Jaipur and will be up against current MP Ramcharan Bohara.
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