Battle for the indispensable Jat vote
By Tarun Nangia - NEW DELHI
Published: 03rd Nov 2013 09:32:06 AM
Jat votes are so important for the political parties in Delhi that once the late Delhi Chief Minister Sahib Singh Verma was stopped from attending the World Jat Conference in Belgrade, Serbia, ahead of 2003 Assembly polls, by BJP patriarch Atal Bihari Vajpayee who requested him rather to campaign for the party to secure the all-important votes of the community.
Under Jat strongman Verma’s chief ministership, who was the president of World Jat Aryan Foundation, BJP had been able to draw a sizeable number of Jat voters into its fold, which seems to have declined recently. Jats constitute an estimated 8 to 10 per cent of Delhi’s voters; they have a sizeable voter base in as many as 14 constituencies.
Of the 70 MLAs, 14 belong to the Jat community. The community enjoys dominance in the constituencies of Mundka, Mehrauli, Uttam Nagar, Gandhi Nagar, Nangloi-Jat, Bawana, Narela, Sadar Bazar, Alipur, Najafgarh and Matiyala. In the past few months, the BJP has gone all out to woo the community; it appointed two Jat mayors—Savita Chaudhary in South Delhi Municipal Corporation and Azad Singh in North Delhi Municipal Corporation. The reason: the Congress has 10 MLAs who are Jats while the BJP has just four from the community.
“Our party is making every effort to woo the Jat community. BJP is the party which made a Jat leader, Vermasaab, the chief minister. The Congress did not make a Jat even a minister in the incumbent state government, but simply did tokenism by appointing Yoganand Shastriji as the Speaker,” said a BJP leader.
A senior Congress leader, however, claims that his party has a large number of MLAs from the Jat community and hence they will support it. “It is true that a sizeable Jat population had become BJP supporters during Verma’s time, but those are things of the past now,” he said.
After the demise of Verma in 2007 and Congress declining ticket to Sajjan Kumar in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Delhi lacks a strong Jat leader. But some leaders who rose to prominence in recent times are Shastri, BJP MLA and Delhi unit vice president Kulwant Rana and Verma’s son Pravesh Verma, who is all set to contest the coming polls.
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