Armed with a Third Front in Rajasthan, BJP rebel Hanuman Beniwal aims to upset poll equations with focus on farm loans
Former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Hanuman Beniwal seems to have shaken the corridors of power in the poll-bound Rajasthan when he formed Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) on 29 October.
Jaipur: Former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Hanuman Beniwal seems to have shaken the corridors of power in the poll-bound Rajasthan when he formed Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) on 29 October.
If Beniwal is to be believed, his new outfit is an alternative to both the “corrupt” BJP and the Congress in the state, which goes to Assembly elections on 7 December. He is confident of RLP's victory in about 130 of 200 Assembly seats in Rajasthan.
With political pundits saying that he can definitely upset the poll equations in the state, Beniwal, a Jat leader and independent MLA from the state’s Khinvsar constituency, has become the subject of discussion.
Beniwal managed to draw a huge crowd in his Monday’s rally and has already organised five Kisan Hunkar Maha rallies. The BJP had suspended the former president of the University of Rajasthan ahead of the 2013 polls after Beniwal levelled corruption charges against Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.
In the Assembly polls, he proved his mettle by defeating BJP candidate in the Khinvsar constituency by 23,020 votes.
The RLP and rebel BJP legislator Ghanshyam Tiwari’s Bharat Vahini Party (BVP) are expected to form a strong third front in Rajasthan, which is already believed to be slipping out of the BJP’s hands.
Excerpts from the interview:
You say your party with support of non-BJP and non-Congress parties is going to win 130 seats in the Assembly polls. How is it possible?
My supporters and I have worked on the ground in around 130 seats of Rajasthan. As (tribal leader) Kirodi Lal Meena left us in between (to join the BJP), we are not making any claim on the remaining 70 seats dominated by the scheduled tribes. But, if we are able to secure a tie-up with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), there will be a tough battle in all the 200 constituencies of the state.
What is the caste equation on the 130 seats that you are confident about?
Primarily, the Jats, the Meghwals, the Muslims, the Yadavs and the Kumawats are with us. Our ally, the BVP and its founder have a huge appeal among the upper castes, especially the Brahmins. So we are expecting major backing from them too.
In the political corridors, people are saying that the BSP is not ready to form an alliance with you. Without its support, how will you woo the Dalit votebank?
We are in touch with the top brass of the BSP. As of now, the party’s vice-president has indicated they are ready to form an alliance. The BSP has a strong grip in the eastern Rajasthan, and with its support, we can get more seats.
Is the RLP door open to the rebels of the Congress and the BJP?
Everybody knows about the presence of “agents” in both the parties. The agents will act as brokers of Assembly tickets. I was in the BJP in 2003 and saw this happening in my Khinvsar seat. There are leaders in both parties who have mass connection but never get tickets because of the agents. If people with a “clean” slate want to join us, we will extend our hand towards them. But we are not going to accept their “garbage”.
There are other alliances also in the state such as the Communist parties and AAP. Are you in touch with them?
I am not aware of any other alliances. We have not talked to them yet.
What are the core issues that your party is focusing on and the road map for them?
The main issue is loan waiver for farmers and their economic prosperity. We will fight for special status to the state and seek funds from the Centre. If they will not provide financial support, we will launch a massive protest. The announcement of free electricity for farmers was an outcome of the battle we fought on the streets. We will also converge the major canal projects and work for the uplift of micro-industries.
In case of a hung Assembly, will you support either of the main parties?
We will not support any party. We will opt for re-elections.
Why you are taking this stand?
Both (Congress’) Ashok Gehlot and (BJP’s) Raje have become the faces of corruption. We have formed our own party and there is no chance of supporting them. Both parties have looted Rajasthan for 70 years. Our battle is ideological. Raje has killed the fundamentals of democratic values.
Did ‘achhe din’ come for the farmers?
Under the BJP and the Congress rules, ‘achhe din’ came, but only for big businessmen. The loan burden of state discoms has crossed Rs 1 lakh crore. We are talking about complete loan waiver for farmers that has burdened the sons of the land. The government is getting revenue of Rs 20,000 crore from liquor sale. If we come to power, we will use this money for the welfare of farmers, youth and underprivileged sections of the state.
BJP claims that no major corruption case has surfaced during its tenure. Do you agree with it?
There is a big scam in the electricity department where the same bureaucrats are holding the positions. Neither the BJP nor the Congress has removed them. We are demanding an audit of accounts of the past 17 years.
The Lokayukta recommended that the home department register 15 complaints against chief ministers, ministers and bureaucrats of Rajasthan involved in mining and other scams, but the state government did not take any action.
A document carrying your signature says that you believe in abolishing caste-based reservations is circulating on social media. Did you notice it?
The document is fake and has been circulated by the other parties. This was the reason behind my fight against Raje too. The government should continue with reservations for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. After evaluating the population of other backward classes, the quota should be increased. Reservation should be on the basis of financial status, so that the poor can rise.
No party can win polls without support of youth. Are the youth of Rajasthan backing your party?
The two major parties have 10 youngsters at every booth, but in 130 booths, we have a team of 50 youngsters at work. The youth of the state have been duped by both the Congress and the BJP.
What kind of Rajasthan that you are dreaming about?
We want water for all, proper utilisation of minerals and ore besides allotment of land deeds to the farmers. The memorandums signed should be executed so that the youth can get jobs. We want to free the people from toll tax. I want the state to become crime-free so that my mother and daughters can roam free.
Author is a Jaipur-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters
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