“Have you seen the Bharat-Pakistan match?” asks Baba Balak Nath, the BJP candidate for the Tijara seat within the upcoming Rajasthan Assembly election, addressing a small gathering on the village temple in Bubkhera. The crowd, consisting largely of Meghwals, a Scheduled Caste group, listens to him impassively.
The clean-shaven, saffron-clad seer, who has traded his diamond studs for picket hoops this election season, thunders: “Match Pakistan ke saath jitna hai ki nahi? (Don’t we have to win the match with Pakistan?)” The Bharat-Pakistan euphemism for the Hindu-Muslim divide isn’t misplaced on his viewers.
The Tijara Assembly seat is a part of the Alwar Lok Sabha constituency that the 39-year-old Mr. Nath at present represents as an MP. In an election that might go all the way down to the wire, his instant concern is voting share. He doesn’t title any group, however asks, “How much is their voting percentage?” Someone remarks that it goes as much as 90%. “And how much is ours?” he asks. There is simply a scattered response. He exhorts his listeners to not go away any voter behind.
Ahirwal vs Mewat
The Congress has fielded 36-year-old Imran Khan, a former Bahujan Samaj Party chief who has not formally joined the social gathering, however was granted a ticket simply days earlier than the deadline to file nominations.
The battle strains are laid down clearly within the “us versus them” metric, and the binary that Mr. Nath drew in his election pitch is as outdated as time itself. The new political map has not erased the traditional Ahirwal-Mewat boundaries. Ahirwal was a post-Mughal principality dominated by Ahirs or Yadavs. The Mewat area is populated by Muslims and Dalits. Development is uneven on the 2 sides of the Delhi-Alwar freeway, which divides the 2 areas.
In the 12 Assembly elections held since 1967, the seat has been held by Muslim candidates seven occasions and by Yadavs 5 occasions. The record of successful candidates embody former Rajasthan Chief Minister Barkatullah Khan.
Mr. Nath, who’s a mahant of the Nath sect of Hinduism, was born right into a Yadav household and can also be one of many aspirants for the Chief Minister’s submit within the faction-ridden State unit of the BJP. The solely time the BJP has gained the Tijara seat was in 2013.
Dalits play decisive function
As one crosses over to Rajasthan from Haryana, trudging by dusty Nuh, there are not any motorable roads to the villages. At Mansingh Ki Thani, a small hamlet of fifty Meghwal households, voters are ready patiently for Mr. Nath to reach, although it’s practically 1:00 p.m., and he’s working late. “We want to show him the condition of our village. Every year, I have to change the tyres on my bike at least twice and sometimes thrice because no one has cared enough for us to get us an asphalt-topped road here,” says Ravinder Kumar, a 26-year-old electrician who works within the close by industrial city of Bhiwadi. With his subsequent breath, he provides, “But I have heard that he could be the CM, so I guess it would be good to place our bets on him.”
Another man in his mid-40s listening in to the dialog presents his perspective. “No Muslim legislator has ever worked for Mewat. Last time, we had BSP MLA Sandeep Yadav, who later joined Congress. He also worked only for Ahirwal. No one wants to bring development to Mewat,” he proclaims, refusing to reveal his id as a result of he’s a central authorities servant. For the final two consecutive phrases, the legislators from Tijara have been Yadav.
In this battle between the Yadavs and Muslims, it’s the vital inhabitants of Dalits who might play a decisive function. Most of the Dalit voters are ready for a cue from the Meghwal Vikas Samiti, whose president Mangat Ram says will take a name in a day or two. “All I can say is that we have been happy with the Congress government in the State and the same can’t be said about our MP,” says Mr. Ram.
This is similar pitch adopted by Mr. Nath’s opponent. “Our honourable MP can’t point to a single foundation stone that he has laid in four and a half years,” says Mr. Khan. “He never talks about development. He has a single point agenda of ‘sanatan dharma’. No religion is in peril here, neither Hinduism nor Islam, but he is trying to fan communal passions,” he provides. Mr. Khan has been busy lodging complaints in opposition to Mr. Nath, together with a declare that he drove bulldozers whereas campaigning with out holding a heavy automobile driving license.
The use of bulldozers within the BJP marketing campaign is an ode to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, whose moniker Mr. Nath has adopted to model himself as “Rajasthan ka Yogi”.
Mr. Khan fears that because the polling date nears, the marketing campaign will turn into increasingly divisive. He fastidiously selects his phrases and has additionally given a diktat to his followers to not make any comment that might be misconstrued as a communal slur. “I am not holding big public meetings or rallies, I don’t want to give any opportunity to my opponents to raise religious slogans,” he says.