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'Rajputs Will Abandon The BJP'

April 12, 2024 12:04 IST

'We want to send a notice to the BJP that Rajputs are no longer their slaves.'

IMAGE: Parshottam Rupala, second from left, during the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation's golden jubilee celebrations in Ahmedabad. Photograph: ANI Photo

The Bharatiya Janata Party is facing strong headwinds from the Rajput community in Gujarat where the BJP won all 26 Lok Sabha seats in 2019.

Angered by BJP Rajya Sabha MP and and Union Minister Parshottam Rupala's alleged offensive remarks about Rajput kings in earlier times, the Rajput community has launched an aggressive campaign seeking Rupala's ouster from the BJP and at the least a withdrawal of his candidature from the Rajkot Lok Sabha seat.

After Rupala's remarks at an election meeting, the Rajput community has been on an offensive against the BJP not only in Gujarat, but also in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

"If they don't cede our demand we will ensure that BJP candidates across these states face the brunt of Rajput ire," Mahipal Singh Makrana, national president, Shri Karni Sena, which is one among many Rajput organisations mobilising support against Rupala, tells Prasanna D Zore/

When and why were you detained by the Gujarat police? When were you released?

We had gone to meet the women who had threatened jauhar (an act of self-immolation engaged by Rajput women in medieval India whereby they would consign themselves to fire to protect their honour from marauding Mughals).

We wanted to tell our sisters, make them understand that so long as their brothers were alive they should not be going for such acts. But the Gujarat police stopped and detained us for eight hours.

Later we were taken to the Rajasthan border (on April 8) and let go. During our detention and on our way back to Rajasthan the Gujarat police continued to torture us mentally.

I was in Gujarat the other day (April 9) to attend yet another programme. There too the police arrived in 40-50 vans. They restricted my movements and had us surrounded. We were allowed to continue with our travel only after 11 pm that day.

What measures are being adopted by the Gujarat police to stop the Rajput agitation?

I am being surrounded by the Gujarat police wherever I travel in the state. I am still in Gujarat (as on April 9) and we are still playing cat-and-mouse game with the state police. We are making all possible efforts to evade arrest, detention and continue with our agitation.

Their plan is to provoke us, make us fight them, provoke us to indulge in violence so that they can take strong action against us and successfully quell our agitation. We will not let the Gujarat government succeed in their plan. We don't want our agitation to stop.

We will continue to oppose the BJP till the time they don't ask Parshottam Rupala to leave the party.

Rajput community leaders have vowed to defeat Parshotttam Rupala from Rajkot. How do you plan to do it?

A person who humiliates the bravery and honour of our brave ancestors must be defeated.

If one of our leaders (a Rajput) contests against him from Rajkot, then the entire Kshatriya community would back such a candidate. Or, if the Congress fields a strong candidate who can defeat him, then we won't hesitate to support Congress.

Our main aim now is to defeat Rupala at any cost.

It would be a shame on the part of our community if we fail to defeat him. We are very confident that he will be defeated.

IMAGE: Parshottam Rupala speaks in the Rajya Sabha during the Budget session of Parliament, February 10, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

Is the ire of the Rajput community only directed against an individual or is the Rajput community planning to work against the BJP?

At this moment we want Rupala to be defeated at any cost. So, we have launched agitations all across Gujarat. Our community leaders are organising Rajputs, wherever they are in significant numbers, and creating awareness among them as to how Rupala has made derogatory statements against our brave ancestors and women; we are demanding that the BJP cancel his nomination from Rajkot.

But if the BJP doesn't concede our demand, then our agitation will become more intense and widespread and we will ensure that a party that doesn't respect Rajputs for being loyal to them for more than 25 years now will have to pay the price for it.

Videos of Rajput leaders administering oaths are viral on social media. What is this oath about?

For the last 25 years we have been unconditional, loyal, supporters of the BJP in Gujarat. The Rajput community has served the party without asking for any benefits or demanded anything from the BJP. We never agitated for any reservations.

But today if the Rajput community is asking the BJP to cancel the nomination of one person who has humiliated our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters who fought valiantly against the Mughals, then we believe that our demand should be accepted.

For the last 25 years not a single Rajput leader has been given a Lok Sabha ticket by the BJP. Yet we remained BJP's core voters. Even today we are not demanding a ticket. We are just asking the party to remove this man (Parshottam Rupala) and name some other candidate from Rajkot.

What could be the reason for the BJP to neglect the Rajput community, as you said, for the last 25 years?

Rajput samarpan ki mudra main hai; BJP ka ghulam ho gaya tha (Rajputs have adopted a stance of surrendering their interests to the BJP; Rajputs have become slaves of the BJP). Since the BJP knows this they have taken us for granted for more than two decades. They know that the community would vote en bloc for the BJP and we have been doing so since the last 25 years.

The BJP thinks that the Rajputs will continue to surrender to their vote bank politics. They think that we can never raise a banner of revolt against them. They think that Rajputs shall continue to sacrifice their interests for the BJP's victory.

But Rajputs today have realised that those who surrender lose respect. They are not valued.

Time has come for the Rajputs to abandon the BJP.

Rajputs first started their agitation in Rajkot to demand cancellation of Parshottam Rupala's Lok Sabha ticket. Today it is spreading not only across Gujarat but also across Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
Why take your agitation outside Gujarat when your anger is against only Parshottam Rupala?

We want to send a notice to the BJP that Rajputs are no longer their slaves.

We have unshackled ourselves and if they don't cede our demand we will ensure that BJP candidates across these states face the brunt of Rajput ire.

Rajnath Singh (a Thakur/Rajput leader and India's defence minister) had come to assuage us yesterday (April 8).

We have launched a huge movement in UP. Since April 9, we have started distributing pamphlets in Madhya Pradesh, UP, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana pleading with our sisters and brothers to start working against BJP candidates (contesting the Lok Sabha election).

We will be posting bill boards and placards at village thoroughfares appealing to the Rajputs to defeat the BJP. We will take out big processions across villages in these states and raise slogans like 'kamal ka phool, hamari bhool' (It was a mistake to support the BJP).

Hasn't Parshottam Rupala already apologised to the Rajputs twice and sought their forgiveness? Shouldn't you forgive him?

Rajputs can never accept an insult to their honour.

We can't forgive a man who has heaped humiliation on our mothers and sisters.

'We can't forgive a man who has hurt the honour of our womenfolk.

If he had said something against our forefathers we would have still forgiven him, but his act is unpardonable.

There is no forgiveness for Parshottam Rupala. The BJP will have to cancel his ticket or face Rajput ire.

Rajputs like Prithviraj Chauhan (in 1191) took on the might of Mohammed Ghouri. We take great pride in protecting the honour of our womenfolk and we fail to understand why the BJP expects us to forgive a man who has insulted our dead mothers and sisters.

How can we vote for someone who has doubts the character of Rajput women?

How can we support a party that cannot, will not, punish the person who has done so?

Your critics within the BJP claim that the Rajputs are pressurising the BJP for not giving them electoral benefits. What do you have to say about such charges?

For the last 25 years we have continued to show our support to the BJP. We will continue to do so even today. But they will have to show the door to this man. That a person who insulted our women is still in the BJP is not acceptable to us.

The other day I was addressing an agitation of 50,000 Rajput brothers and sisters. I administered an oath to them that they should not vote for the BJP if they don't cancel his nomination.

I swore upon our kuldevi (most revered goddess) and told the crowd that the Rajputs never voted for the Congress. Lekin aaj BJP ne hamara dharmantar karwa diya hai (But the BJP, by not removing Rupala from Rajkot, has converted our loyalty towards the Congress).

Through the media I want to tell all our community members -- wherever they are -- that if the BJP doesn't accept our demand, then the Rajputs should swear to defeat them.

I have pleaded with them to vote for anybody who is in a position to defeat the BJP.

Rajput women have threatened jauhar if the BJP doesn't ask Rupala to step down and nominate someone else. Isn't this a dangerous threat? Do you support jauhar?

We don't support jauhar. There is no place for it today. And that is the reason I had gone to meet our sisters to tell them that they should not be issuing such threats when their brothers are still alive.

IMAGE: Parshottam Rupala, the BJP candidate for the Rajkot Lok Sabha constituency, being welcomed at Gopin village in Surat. Photograph: ANI Photo

The BJP won all 26 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 election. In how many seats could the Rajputs dent the BJP's victory chances in Gujarat if the BJP refuses to budge and remove Parshottam Rupala?

Not just in Gujarat but all over India wherever Rajputs have a significant chunk of votes the BJP will regret hurting Rajput sentiments.

The BJP will face upsets from Ghaziabad, where they have cut General V K Singh's ticket. They will also suffer for cutting the ticket of Brijbhushan Sharan Singh from Ayodhya.

Will the Rajputs, who pride themselves in protecting the honour of their women, any woman, support Brijbhushan Sharan Singh against whom several women wrestlers have levelled charges of sexual assault?

These are only charges. Nothing has been proved against him yet.

Don't you think even an allegation of sexual assault against women is enough to not support such a politician?

Let it be anybody, no less a politician... nobody has the right to molest a woman and get away with it. But these are yet charges and nothing has been proved against him (Brijbhushan Sharan Singh).

The BJP, or any other party, should act against him or any other MP if charges are proved. Such acts, if proved, are not pardonable.

As of now, let us talk only about our agitation.

If they take Rajputs for granted, then forget about 400, the BJP will not be able to cross even 300.