Power cen­tre of Ra­jasthan pol­i­tics

TREND Saf­fron par­ties, led by Jana Sangh, gained power af­ter Emer­gency

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - Rajasthan -

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.

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