Jat MLA set to pose big challenge to BJP, Congress in Rajathan

An Independent Jat MLA from Khinwsar in Rajasthan, Hanuman Beniwal, earlier associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was set to pose a major challenge to both BJP and Congress in the Assembly election by planning an alliance with the rebel BJP leader Ghanshyam Tiwari.

Mr. Beniwal had emerged as a prominent Jat leader after winning Nagaur district’s Khinwsar seat in the 2013 Assembly elections following his suspension from the BJP in 2012 because of differences with party leader Vasundhara Raje. He had won the 2008 Assembly polls as a BJP candidate.

The Independent MLA had announced that he would float a new political front at his “Hunkar Rally” to be held in Jaipur on October 29. He had so far organised big rallies, attracting thousands of Jats and farmers in Nagaur, Barmer, Bikaner and Sikar districts.

A vocal critical of both the BJP and Congress, Mr. Beniwal had hinted at evolving a new political alternative that could ensure fast development of Rajasthan. He said the main poll planks of his front would be the complete waiver of farmers’ loans, toll-free roads and highways, filling up vacancies in the government departments to give jobs to youths and a strong Lokayukta to tackle corruption.

Mr. Beniwal had announced that there would be a “close association” between his front and Mr. Tiwari’s Bharat Vahini Party. The coming together of six-time legislator Mr. Tiwari, who enjoyed a big support in the Brahmin community, and Mr. Beniwal, who was popular among Jats, would be a cause of concern for both the major parties.

Mr. Tiwari had also parted ways with the BJP earlier this year following serious differences with Ms. Raje over her style of governance. Mr. Beniwal had claimed that an alliance formed by him as a third political front in the State would win about 100 of the 200 Assembly seats.

The October 29 rally was expected to give clues about Mr. Beniwal’s position among Jats, who claimed to have 12% vote share in the State and an ability to influence results in at least 50 Assembly constituencies. However, Mr. Beniwal had claimed support from all major communities and invited all of those opposed to both BJP and Congress to join his outfit.

Earlier this week, another Jat leader and former Tourism Minister, Usha Punia, resigned from the BJP while alleging that the community was being neglected and its leaders were being sidelined. Ms. Punia, who was in the State Cabinet during Ms. Raje’s first term as the Chief Minister between 2003 and 2008, said all works in the present BJP regime had been confined to the Chief Minister’s office and residence.

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