Rajasthan Assembly polls: Alwar may slip out of BJP's grip as lynchings, subjugation of SC/STs polarise voters

Rangoli Agrawal | Nov 22, 2018 | 4 min read


Rajasthan: Alwar slipping out of BJP's grip as lynchings, subjugation of minorities cause polarisation of votes

By Rajendra Sharma

Alwar: The vote arithmetic in Alwar district seems to be swinging away from the BJP, which had won 10 of the 11 seats here last time. But come December 7, the polarisation of the SC/STs and Muslims against the BJP could erode that number considerably.

For the Meo Muslims, the mob lynchings by gaurakshaks, which took the lives of Pehlu Khan, Umar Khan and, Rakbar Khan, and their continuing harassment by these self-styled gaurakshaks, with the state government taking no action against the perpetrators, cannot be easily forgotten or forgiven. For the SC/STs, the ruling party’s attempt to amend the SC/ST Atrocities Act, the death in police firing of Dalit youth Pawan Kumar Jatav during the Bharat Bandh of April 2, and the heavy-handed police action against protesters when angry mobs burnt police vehicles and attacked several police stations, like Khairthal which saw over 3000 FIRs being filed against them in Alwar alone, rankles deeply.

“The cow issue has created a wall between the Hindu and Muslim communities,” said Pappu Khan, a Meo Muslim who resides in Nasopur, Ramgarh. He adds, “The Meo community nurtures cows in a large number and are scared of going into the fields with their cows for fear of being mistaken as cow slaughterers”. A sentiment echoed by Hakamuddin, a resident of Chandpur. “A rift has been created between Hindus and Muslims in Alwar due to several mob lynching cases,” said Hakamuddin. “People in the region are now looking at Congress party for support”.

There is also a growing feeling among the Meos that the BJP does not consider the community as its vote bank despite their being the largest voter group in Ramgarh. “The BJP has not done anything for us in the last five years,” said Pappu.

Dalits and Meos together comprise 7.5 lakh voters in Alwar district. The number is nine lakh if other SC/ST communities are included. Their support is crucial to any party’s electoral performance in this region. The overall caste distribution of the population in Alwar is 4.5 lakh SCs, 3.6 lakh Yadavs, three lakh Brahmins, 3.5 lakh Meos, 2.1 lakh Jats, two lakh Meenas, 1.7 lakh Vaishyas, 1.3 lakh Malis, one lakh Sikh-Punjabis and Gujjars each, 60,000 Rajputs, and 1.5 lakh other voters, according to sources.

Besides Ramgarh, the Dalits and Meo communities are a major vote bank in rural Alwar, Kishangarh Bas and Tijara. And in all these places, numerous Dalits remain angry with the ruling party. “The BJP had conspired to suppress the community,” said Rattiyam, a villager belonging to the SC community. “FIRs were lodged against people from SC/ST communities and they are being tortured. BJP had assured to take back the cases but nothing has been done,” he added.

Jitendra Singh, former minister of state, who also represented Alwar in Parliament as a Congress MP, says the BJP works towards dividing the public in the name of caste and religion. "This is why the party has made efforts towards creating tussles among communities, and thereby, spoiling the harmonious relationship. BJP has not done anything for the development of the region and Congress promises to stand by the residents of Alwar during all situations".

The BJP is aware that it is facing a double blow of anti-incumbency and non-performance of sitting MLAs of the district. "Some resentment is always there and we are trying to address this,” said BJP district president Sanjay Naruka. “We want to include everyone and I am sure people will realise this and vote for us." The BJP is now looking for alternatives to current leaders as a repair measure, as indicated by the party’s candidates list.

Two key BJP Hindutva leaders and sitting MLAs, Gyan Dev Ahuja and Banwari Lal Singhal, both known to spread antipathy against the Meo community, have been denied tickets, probably to tone down the Hindutva stance. “If the party has denied me a ticket because of the voice I have raised to protect Hindutva, then I must tell the party that I will keep fighting for the interests of Hindus,” said Singhal. “I respect the party’s decision to not give me a ticket”.

Gyan Dev Ahuja, however, resigned from the party and is not contesting elections this term.

It is to be noted that BJP has fielded Sanjay Sharma from Alwar city, Ramhet Yadav in Ramgarh and Manjeet Chaudhary from Mundavar. New faces have been fielded in both the reserved constituencies in Alwar district. Names for the remaining seats are yet to be announced.


photo/video credits: Rajendra Sharma

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