JAIPUR: With former water resources minister Mahipal Maderna behind bars in the Bhanwari Devi case, a vacuum has emerged in the Jat leadership in the state. Maderna’s father Parasram Maderna is too old to play an active role, and this has given the beleaguered Congress a whole new problem in western Rajasthan where Jats play an important role.
Jats are a prominent force in over 40 of the 200 Assembly constituencies in the state. They comprise 12 per cent of the total population of Rajasthan. Both the state’s prominent parties—the Congress and BJP—are now trying to project some other politicians from the community as emerging leaders to fill this void.
Sources in both parties said that some leaders will soon be projected as the face of the community to replace Mahipal Maderna who had been a prominent leader in Marwar region of the state. “Some leaders, including the legislator from Pali constituency Badri Ram Jakhar and legislator from Gudamalani constituency Hemaram Choudhary, are likely to emerge major forces in the next Assembly elections for the Congress,” a ruling party source said.
On the other hand, the BJP is likely to project Dr Digambar Singh as Jat leader in the coming days. The void in the Jat leadership had been created by arrest of Mahipal Maderna who was a minister in the Ashok Gehlot cabinet. Maderna is accused of getting an auxiliary nurse and midwife Bhanwari Devi kidnapped from Jodhpur’s Bilara area on September 1. It is alleged that the nurse was blackmailing Maderna on the basis of a CD showing both in a compromising position. Before the CBI arrested Maderna on December 2, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had sacked him from the Cabinet and then suspended him from the primary membership of the Congress.
“In Western Rajasthan, another leader who had a sway over the community was Nathuram Mirdha. After his death of Mirdha, his near ones have not been able to take his place,” said Rakesh Swami, a political analyst. The Maderna episode is now likely to mobilise the community against the chief minister.
A section of the community accuses top leaders of the conspiracy to destroy Maderna. A Jat gathering in Gehlot’s constituency of Jodhpur on December 23 is being seen a manifestation of this sentiment. The gathering, organised by the All India Adarsh Jat Mahasabha, in honour of a senior Jat leader’s birth anniversary was attended by Jat leaders across political parties including Congress legislator from Baytoo (Barmer) Col Sonaram Chaudhary.