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'Kshatriya anger' concern in BJP as ‘sidelined’ Rajputs protest against Parshottam Rupala

Kshatriya/ Rajput organisations have been leading protests since March demanding that the BJP withdraw Rupala’s candidature from Rajkot for “deliberately insulting” the community with his remarks

J.P. Yadav Jaipur Published 13.04.24, 05:56 AM
Representational image

Representational image File picture

Ripples of protests among members of the Kshatriya community against Union minister and BJP candidate from Gujarat’s Rajkot, Parshottam Rupala, are being felt across Rajasthan and parts of Uttar Pradesh, raising concern in the party about how to strategise for the parliamentary polls in the two crucial states.

Kshatriya/ Rajput organisations have been leading protests since March demanding that the BJP withdraw Rupala’s candidature from Rajkot for “deliberately insulting” the community with his remarks.


Rupala had hailed Dalits for their “steadfastness” before foreign rulers, contrasting it with the compromises made by erstwhile Kshatriya kings.

“The Kshatriya kings broke bread and got their daughters married to foreign rulers,” Rupala was heard saying in a video that went viral, sparking fierce protests by the Kshatriya community.

As the BJP continues to ignore the demand for dropping Rupala, the issue has snowballed into larger neglect of the community by the saffron party and signs of discontent are seen across Rajasthan and parts of Uttar Pradesh.

“If the BJP doesn’t withdraw Rupala from Rajkot and continues to ignore the various demands we have been making, then the party will pay a heavy price this election,” Mahendra Singh Tartara, the convenor of the Kshatriya Yuvak Sangh, told The Telegraph over the phone from Barmer.

“The representation of Rajputs in legislatures has been declining. Our youths are not getting the benefit of reservations under the 10 per cent economically weaker sections category because of the 5-acre-land ceiling rule,” Tartara said, mentioning a few among the many reasons behind the anger of the community against the BJP.

Rajasthan’s Barmer Lok Sabha constituency in many ways has emerged as a
symbol of neo-Kshatriya pride and the alleged neglect of the community.

A Kshatriya youth, Ravindra Singh Bhati, is contesting the elections from Barmer as an Independent after the BJP denied him a ticket. Bhati has been a crowd-puller and his soaring popularity has been giving BJP strategists jitters because the message from Barmer is travelling across Rajasthan and even to other states.

Bhati, associated with the RSS’s student outfit ABVP, had contested last year’s Rajasthan polls as an Independent from Sheo in Barmer after the BJP denied him a ticket. He won by a big margin. Bhati contesting the Lok Sabha elections is being seen by the Kshatriya community as an effort to reclaim their right to the seat.

Barmer in the past had been represented by late BJP veteran Jaswant Singh (a Kshatriya) but now Union minister Kailash Chowdhury, a Jat, is seeking re-election from this partially desert region.

Sensing the challenge posed by Bhati, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a rally in Barmer on Friday, told the gathering: “The BJP has given the responsibility of the ‘lotus’ from Barmer to Bhai Kailash Chowdhury. So, you have to trust Modi’s guarantee and press the lotus button.”

A BJP leader in Jaipur said that in Rajasthan, the major reason behind the anger among the Kshatriyas is because a leader of the community has not been made the chief minister. “The Rajkot and Barmer instances have triggered the community’s misgivings,” he said.

After winning Rajasthan convincingly late last year, the BJP appointed first-time MLA Bhajan Lal Sharma as the chief minister, sidelining former CM and party’s prominent face in the state, Vasundhara Raje.

Diya Kumari, a Kshatriya and a strong chief minister aspirant, was made the deputy chief minister. Diya and other Kshatriya leaders of the BJP have now been pressed to hold meetings and assuage their community members to ensure they vote for the BJP.

“If the Kshatriya community goes against us, it will surely cost us some half-a-dozen seats in Rajasthan,” a senior BJP leader said. The BJP had won all the 25 Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan in 2019.

BJP insiders said the unrest among the Kshatriya community led Modi to get former army chief V.K. Singh by his side during a road show in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad last week.

Two-term MP Singh was dropped from Ghaziabad and this, according to internal party reports, has angered the Kshatriya community, which has a substantial presence in the constituency. The party has fielded sitting MLA Atul Garg from the seat.

The effect of the Kshatriya unrest has also been hobbling the BJP in the key Muzaffarnagar Lok Sabha constituency of western Uttar Pradesh.

An ugly fight has broken out between former MLA from the area Sangeet Som, a Kshatriya caste leader, and current party candidate and sitting MP from the seat, Sanjeev Balyan, a Jat.

Som has refused to campaign for Balyan, alleging that he is not a leader but a “goonda”. Balyan has hit back and BJP managers are being rushed to defuse the situation.

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