New Delhi: As the Congress rode back to power in Rajasthan, 13 ministers of the Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government lost. Among them, Otaram Dewasi stood out. Dewasi is India’s first-ever ‘cow minister’.
Dewasi lost in Sirohi seat to Independent candidate Sanyam Lodha by a margin of over 10,000 votes. Dewasi had defeated Lodha in the same constituency in 2013 state elections by a margin of 24,439 votes. He was elected to Rajasthan Assembly from Sirohi in 2008 as well.
In 2014, Vasundhara Raje set up a cow welfare department in Rajasthan and Dewasi was made the head. He was later elevated as a minister of cow welfare.
Dewasi belongs to the Rabari community that is dependent on livestock. Rabaris are well-respected in the society and also referred to as Bhopojji (priests).
Speaking to News18.com, Dewasi said he had lost despite support of the people. "Congress had fielded a weak candidate who didn't stand a chance. The Independent candidate absorbed his vote share," he said.
The fate of the Gaupalan ministry now remains uncertain under a Congress government. Dewasi though believes that the ministry will continue to exist even under the next regime.
There were several instances of violence related to cow vigilantism in the state during Raje’s rule. Most notable was the lynching of Pehlu Khan in April 2017 by cow vigilantes.
The Congress emerged as the single-largest party in Rajasthan in Tuesday's vote count, winning 99 seats. Its ally Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) won one seat taking the total to 100 seats—101 is the majority mark.
The BJP got 73 seats, and the Bahujan Samaj Party won 6 seats. BSP leader Mayawati on Wednesday pledged support for the Congress. The CPI(M) got two seats, Independents won 13 and other parties got 6, according to the state Election Commission.