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In poll battle for Rajasthan, BJP fights Rajput woes

File photo of Bharatiya Janata Party. Photograph:( ANI )

PTI Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India Nov 30, 2018, 05.43 PM (IST)

In the poll battle for Rajasthan where the ruling BJP is pitted against its arch-rival Congress, the saffron party has got another task at hand - keeping their traditional vote bank of Rajputs intact.

Over the last few years, some Rajput groups have gone to the extent of forming anti-BJP fronts, including some against Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.

However, the BJP leaders are confident that the Rajputs will once again vote for the party.

Rajputs form 12 per cent of Rajasthan's total population and play a decisive role in at least 30 seats of the 200-member assembly. Almost every seat in the state has a sizeable portion of Rajput voters.

In Jodhpur region, there are some seats where the BJP is facing challenge from some Rajput leaders.

In Jodhpur's Arsia constituency, independent Rajput candidate Mahendra Singh Bhati is fighting against the BJP. In Phalodi seat of the district, the BJP has fielded Pabba Ram Bishnoi, but independent Rajput candidate Kumbh Singh Patwat is also in the fray.

The Rajput community is said to have been traditionally voting for the BJP and before that for the erstwhile Jan Sangh.

However, some leaders say, the relationship started getting sour in 2016. What has added to the party's woes was the recent crossing-over to Congress by Manvendra Singh, son of former union minister and BJP leader Jaswant Singh who is a well-regarded face in the Rajput community.

According to political analysts, there have been multiple reasons for this relationship to go wrong - protests over film 'Padmavaat', encounter of gangster Anandpal Singh and Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's reported opposition to appoint the party's Rajput face and Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat as state BJP chief.

When contacted, Shekhawat asserted that the entire community was with the BJP and that there was no anger at all among them.

"Every community is supporting the BJP and every one will come together to elect a government with full majority led by Vasundhara Raje," he said.

Over the last few months, BJP has put in all efforts to win back the Rajput votes, but they are not confident of a sweeping mandate as yet, experts said. The BJP has given ticket to 26 Rajput candidates for the December 7 polls.

Still, some fringe Rajput groups are said to be opposing ruling party candidates in some seats.

Story highlights

The Rajput community is said to have been traditionally voting for the BJP and before that for the erstwhile Jan Sangh.