Power centre of Rajasthan politics
TREND Saffron parties, led by Jana Sangh, gained power after Emergency
University (Kota), Hadoti region, the land of Hada rulers, has also seen the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) establish its influence. The RSS-backed Akhil Bharatiya Ram Rajya Parishad (RRP), which later merged into the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, propped up Rajput leaders as candidates in the first assembly election in 1952. The RRP would go on to win several assembly seats in the next two assembly elections as well.
According to senior journalist Narayan Bareth, who is also a professor of journalism at University of Rajasthan, said former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former deputy prime minister LK Advani were among the prominent members of the Sangh who visited the region to strengthen the Jana Sangh and the RSS. Both Vajpayee and Advani campained for the party; the latter had even stayed in Kota for months, working as an RSS pracharak.
It was this cultivated presence of the RSS that would later give the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a foothold - by way of the Jana Sangh and the Janata Party, both precursors to the modern-day BJP - and pave way for the bipolar duel between the BJP and the Congress that would become a norm later on.
For instance, in the 2008 assembly elections, which the Congress won to form the government in the state, Hadoti was a mixed bag, with the grand old party bagging 10 seats and the BJP seven. Come the next election in 2013, and the BJP, besides overthrowing the Congress from power, would score a home run here, too, by winning 16 seats, leaving the Congress with only one (Hindoli in Bundi district).
The saffron front setting up its political base didn’t happen merely as part of the time preceding the 2014 general elections. It had its root somewhat in the post-Emergency period, when Janata Party’s performance in the 1977 assembly elections (151 seats out of 200) put the first non-Congress leader in the chief minister’s chair, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who won from Chhabra seat (in Baran district). Shekhawat joined the BJP in 1980 after the then prime minister Indira Gandhi dismissed his government in the state. Shekhawat would return to hold the chief minister’s post twice – 1990-1992 and 1993-1998, and would serve as the leader of opposition in the state assembly from 1998 to 2002.
The following year, Hadoti would once again give Rajasthan, and the BJP, a chief minister in Vasundhara Raje. While Raje had begun her political journey from Dholpur (winning the assembly seat in 1985), she would shift her base to Jhalrapatan (in Jhalawar district) from where she would win three successive elections – in 2003, 2008 and 2013.
But Hadoti region has also had space for the Left, although concentrated mostly in Kota, an industrial town until 1990 and a trade union centre. Now, it’s the coaching centres that have turned the city into the “educational hub” of Rajasthan.
“Post Independence, the Congress failed to hold on to its political base in Hadoti that had evolved during the freedom struggle and worked only to gain power,” Bareth said.
At present, there are three ministers in the Raje cabinet who hail from Hadoti region, although none from Kota district even though its leaders represent all six constituencies.
When the state votes on December 7, the BJP and the Congress will be keeping a close watch on Hadoti, which has a significant population of Sahariya tribals (in Baran) while other electorates comprise members of Gujjar, Meena, Dhakar, Mali and people belonging to Other Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. With the presence of Brahmins, Vaishyas, Rajputs and Muslims, too, the region can go either way – which way it finally does will be known on December 11.
Seven regions comprise Rajasthan. HT looks at how poll dynamics of these regions have changed since 1951
At present, there are three ministers in the Raje cabinet who hail from Hadoti region that has remained politically active since teh days of freedom struggle. Kota, the hub of coaching centres, comes under the region.