The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has deployed senior leaders to Jewar to counter the strategy of the Samajwadi Party (SP)-Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) alliance of using the King Mihir Bhoj issue during the campaign to unite voters Gurjar in the Jewish assembly segment.
SP-RLD alliance candidate Avtar Singh Bhadana, a Gurjar himself, takes on incumbent MLA and BJP candidate Dhirendra Singh, who is from the Rajput community, in what political pundits believe will be an uphill battle in the constituency .
In September 2021, a row broke out after the caste name of Gurjar was removed from the plaque under the statue of King Mihir Bhoj which was erected at a college in Dadri, about 20 km from Jewar. The 15ft statue of the 9th century ruler was unveiled by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on September 22, 2021.
Shortly after the event, the Gurjars launched a series of protests after their caste name was removed from the plaque. Later, the community formed a group to fight for caste inclusion on the plaque and also decided to vote against the BJP in these assembly polls.
Bhadana and his supporters are raising the issue at village meetings to mobilize Gurjar voters in his favor, sources said.
There are at least 50,000 Gurjar voters, out of a total of about 3.2 lakh (320,000) voters in Jewar. The Rajput community numbers around 70,000 voters and the BJP expects a tough fight from the SP-RLD candidate. Bhadana’s supporters, meanwhile, are also banking on 20,000 Muslim voters and the 24,000 Jat voters to win the seat.
To counter this crisis and win over Gurjar voters, the BJP has deployed two senior leaders – Rajya Sabha MP Surendra Nagar and UP Transport Minister Ashok Kataria – to reach out to those who are unhappy with the BJP regarding King Mihir Problem Bhoj.
According to party workers, the BJP asked the two leaders, both Gurjars with considerable influence in the community, to visit Gurjar-dominated villages in all constituencies including Jewar. Nagar, who is also deputy chairman of the UP’s BJP unit, visited many Gurjar-dominated villages including Bironda, Murshadpur and Sikandrabad last week to call on people to vote for Dhirendra Singh. at Jewar.
“We tell people that this election is not about electing an MP or a chief minister, but about working together to build the most prosperous state in the country. The BJP government has worked for all communities without dividing people on caste or religion like other parties. We tell people why they should join hands and vote for the betterment of the state. Opposition efforts to divide people on petty or caste issues will not work,” said Nagar, who is in charge of “effective election communication” in all western UP seats. including Gautam Budh Nagar, Bulandshahr and Meerut.
The BJP also asked Faridabad MP Krishan Pal Gurjar, the state union minister for heavy industries, to hold small meetings and influence voters in Gurjar, party workers said.
Meanwhile, Avtar Singh Bhadana said the BJP effort will not work because people are “fed up with the party”.
“The BJP did not work for the people and divided people based on caste and religion. People will teach them a lesson in this election no matter what they do now,” Bhadana said.
Political pundits say the contest in Jewar is a direct fight between the BJP and the SP-RLD.
“There is a direct contest between BJP and SP-RLD in Jewar, and other candidates from Congress and Bahujan Samaj party are vying for the third position. Now it remains to be seen whether people will vote above caste,” said veteran political analyst and journalist Bipin Sharma.