Rajasthan: When Jat vs Rajput battle ignites desert storm in Churu

The simmering animosity between Rajendra Rathore and the Kaswan clan spilled into public view during the last Assembly elections.
Rahul Kaswan, Devendra Jhajharia
Rahul Kaswan, Devendra Jhajharia

JAIPUR: Elections are looming over the 25 Lok Sabha seats of Rajasthan, but it is the Churu Lok Sabha constituency, nestled in the heart of the desert, that has emerged as the epicentre of political fervour.

In a direct showdown between the Congress and the BJP, the seat has ignited political tensions across the state, drawing widespread attention due to its historical significance and the current bitter battle which has made it the hot seat of the state.

Riding high on the ‘Modi magic’ wave the BJP that secured all 25 seats in the past two elections, is vigorously vying for a third consecutive victory. However, the Churu constituency poses a formidable challenge to the BJP’s ambitious claims. The party has clinched victory here in the last five Lok Sabha elections with Ram Singh Kaswan representing the constituency in 1999, 2004, and 2009, followed by his son Rahul Kaswan in 2014 and 2019.

However, the political landscape has undergone a dramatic shift. Rahul Kaswan, an MP and a prominent Jat leader, recently defected to the Congress, setting the stage for a gripping electoral battle against the BJP’s Devendra Jhajharia, a distinguished paralympian hailing from the Jat community. Yet, beneath this apparent contest lies a deeper struggle, revolving around the longstanding feud between the BJP’s Rajput stalwart, Rajendra Rathore, and the Kaswan family, both vying for supremacy in Churu’s political arena.

The simmering animosity between Rajendra Rathore and the Kaswan clan spilled into public view during the last Assembly elections. Despite the BJP securing a decisive victory in Rajasthan, Rathore, the Leader of the Opposition, suffered a surprising defeat in the Tara Nagar constituency, widely perceived as a clash of prestige between the Jat and Rajput communities.

Rathore’s defeat was attributed by some to internal sabotage, hinting at the involvement of the influential Kaswan family. Blaming unnamed ‘Jaichands’ within the BJP for his loss, Rathore indirectly pointed fingers at the Kaswans, accusing them of undermining his electoral prospects.

In a retaliatory move, Rahul Kaswan denounced the ‘feudal mindset’ within the Rajasthan BJP upon joining the Congress, highlighting the simmering tensions between the Jat and Rajput factions within the party. The deep-seated animosity between the Kaswans and Rathore has fractured Churu along caste lines, intensifying the Jat-Rajput rivalry that defines the constituency’s political landscape.

With a significant proportion of Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, and Muslim voters, caste dynamics play a pivotal role in shaping electoral outcomes in Churu. Rahul Kaswan’s affiliation with the Congress is expected to garner substantial support from these demographic groups, tipping the scales in favour of the opposition party. Moreover, the constituency’s proximity to Haryana amplifies the influence of the ongoing farmers’ agitation, further complicating the electoral calculus.

The deadlock has prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene directly, rallying support for the BJP candidate Devendra Jhajharia during a recent campaign visit.

However, conspicuously absent from Modi’s rhetoric was any mention of Rajendra Rathore, indicating a potential rift within the party ranks. Sources suggest that Rathore himself seeks to distance from the contentious electoral battle unfolding in Churu.

Political landscape undergoes a dramatic shift

Rahul Kaswan (left in pic), an MP and a prominent Jat leader, recently defected to the Congress, setting the stage for an electoral battle against BJP’s Devendra Jhajharia (right in pic), a paralympian hailing from the Jat community. Yet, beneath this apparent contest lies a deeper struggle, revolving around the long-standing feud between the BJP’s Rajput stalwart, Rajendra Rathore, and the Kaswan family, both vying for supremacy in Churu’s political arena

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