Vajpayee’s death, PIL and Gujjar protests hit Raje’s yatra pace
The CM had to suspend the second phase of yatra, which was scheduled to start on August 20, citing the seven-day mourning following Vajpayee’s death.
A public interest litigation, Gujjar protest and state mourning following the death of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee have disturbed the tempo of the poll campaign, which had gathered some momentum in its first phase when Raje travelled through the Udaipur division covering 23 assembly constituencies.
The chief minister had to suspend the second phase of yatra, which was scheduled to start on August 20, citing the seven-day mourning following Vajpayee’s death. The yatra in the second phase was to travel through the Bharatpur division, where Gujjars had threatened to protest over their demands including a 5% quota in government jobs and withdrawal of police cases against community members who were detained during various agitations.
Prior to Raje’s yatra to Bharatpur, the Rajasthan government had invited Gujjars to discuss their demands with a cabinet sub-committee. But the main leader of the agitation, Kirori Singh Bainsla, refused to participate in any of the talks. “We will block Raje’s way in Jodhpur also with our lathis. We won’t let this agitation fizzle out till we get our demands fulfilled,” Bainsla told ET. However, a splinter group led by Himmat Singh, once a close confidante of Bainsla, acceded to government’s proposal resulting in a split in the community.
“The BJP has conveniently skipped the Bharatpur division as it suspected high-voltage protests from the Gujjars. The government tried every bit to pacify the community but succeeded only in splitting the leadership,” said a senior government official involved in dealing with the Gujjars. The chief minister now would be resuming her yatra from August 24 in the Jodhpur division covering 32 assembly seats. The same day, the Congress is also launching its Sankalp Yatra from Chittorgarh to counter the BJP’s Gaurav Yatra. The Jodhpur leg of Raje’s yatra is unlikely to be smooth. This is the region Congress general secretary and former CM Ashok Gehlot belongs to. Moreover, union state minister for agriculture Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, whom Raje opposed as the state BJP chief candidate, belongs to Jodhpur.