Armed with a Third Front in Rajasthan, BJP rebel Hanuman Beniwal aims to upset poll equations with focus on farm loans

Madhav Sharma | Nov 8, 2018 | 6 min read



We are winning Rajasthan: Hanuman Beniwal

Madhav Sharma

Former BJP leader Hanuman Beniwal seems to have shaken the corridors of power in Rajasthan in the one week since he founded Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP), on October 29 last Monday.

If Beniwal is to be believed, his new outfit - with the Bottle as its symbol - is an alternative to both the “corrupt” BJP and Congress in the state all geared up for Assembly elections on December 7, and he is confident of RLP winning around 130 of 200 seats.

With political pundits believing he can definitely spoil the poll equations, Beniwal, a Jat leader and independent MLA from the state’s Khinvsar constituency, has become the subject of much discussion.

To his credit, he held a large crowd at sway during Monday’s rally, and has already organised as many as five Kisan Hunkar Maha Rallies. The BJP would remember the former president of University of Rajasthan as the man they suspended prior to the 2013 polls, after Beniwal laid charges of corruption at the door of CM Vasundhara Raje. Later, he went on to defeat his rival BJP candidate on the Khinvsar seat by 23,020 votes.

The RLP and rebel BJP MLA Ghanshyam Tiwari’s Bharat Vahini Party (BVP) are expected to form a strong third front in Rajasthan - already believed to be slipping out of the BJP’s hands. 

Q1) You say your party with support from other non BJP-Congress parties is going to get 130 seats in the Assembly polls. How?

My supporters and I have worked on the ground in around 130 seats of Rajasthan. As (tribal leader) Kirodi Lal Meena left us in between (to join the BJP), we are not making any claim on the remaining 70 seats dominated by the scheduled tribes. But if we are able to tie a ‘knot’ with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), there will be a tough battle on all 200 constituencies of the state.

Q2) What is the caste equation on the 130 seats you are confident about?

Primarily, the Jats, Meghwals, Muslims, Yadavs and Kumawats are with us. Our ally BVP and its founder have a huge appeal among the general castes, especially the Brahmins. So we are expecting major backing from them too.

Q3) In the political corridors, people are saying the BSP is not ready to form an alliance with you. Without its support, how will you appease the Dalit votebank?

We are in touch with the top brass of the BSP. As of now, the party’s vice-president has indicated they are ready to form an alliance. The BSP has a strong grip in eastern Rajasthan, and with its support we can get even more seats.

Q4) Are the gates of RLP open to rebels of the Congress and BJP?

Everybody knows about the presence of “agents” in both parties. The agent will act as broker of Assembly tickets. I was in the BJP in 2003 and saw this happening on my seat of Khinvsar. There are leaders in both parties who have a mass connect but never get tickets because of the agents. If people with a “clean” slate want to join us, we will extend our hand. But we are not going to accumulate their “garbage”.

Q5) There are other formations too, such as the communist parties or AAP in the state. Are you in touch with them?

I am not aware of any other alliances. We have not talked to them yet.

Q6) What are the core issues of your party and the roadmap for them?

The main issue is loan waiver for farmers and their economic prosperity, and for that we will fight for special status for the state and extract money from the Centre. If they will not provide financial support, we will launch a massive protest. The announcement of free electricity for farmers was an outcome of the battle we fought on the road. We will also converge the major canal projects and work for the uplift of micro-industries.

Q7) In case of a hung Assembly, will you support either of the main parties?

We will not support any party. We will opt for re-elections.

Q8) Why?

Both (Congress’) Ashok Gehlot and (BJP’s) Raje have become the face of corruption. We have formed our own party and there is no chance of supporting them. Both parties have looted Rajasthan for 70 years. Our battle is also ideological. Raje has killed the fundamentals of democratic values.

Q9) Did ‘achhe din’ come for the farmers?

Under BJP and Congress rule, ‘achhe din’ came, but only for big businessmen. The loan burden of state discoms has crossed Rs 1 lakh crore. We are talking about complete loan waiver for farmers that has burdened the sons of the motherland. The government is getting revenue of Rs 20,000 crore from liquor sale. If we come to power, we will use this money for farmers, youth and other underprivileged sections.

Q10) BJP claims that no big corruption has surfaced during its tenure.

There is a big scam in the electricity department where the same bureaucrats are holding position - neither the BJP nor Congress has removed them. We are demanding an audit of accounts of the last 17 years. The Lokayukta recommended that the home department register 15 complaints against chief ministers, ministers and bureaucrats of Rajasthan involved in mining and other scams - but no action was taken by the state.

Q11) A document signed by you which says that you believe in ending caste-based reservation is floating on social media. Is it true?

The document is fake and has been circulated by the other parties. This was the reason behind my fight with Raje too. The government should continue with reservations for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. After evaluating the population of other backward classes, the quota should be increased. Reservation should be on the basis of economic status, so that the poor can rise.

Q12) No party can win polls without support from youth. Are the youth of Rajasthan backing you?

The two major parties have 10 youngsters at every booth, but on 130 booths, we have a team of 50 youngsters at work. The youth have been duped by both Congress and BJP.

Q13) What kind of Rajasthan do you dream of?

We want water for all, proper utilisation of minerals and ore, and allotment of land deeds to farmers. The memorandums signed should be executed so that the youth can get jobs. We want to free the people from toll tax. I want the state to become crime-free so that my mother and daughters can roam free.

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