Tug of war in UP over legacy of Rajbhar king

The Rajbhar community has a presence in nearly 125 assembly seats in eastern Uttar Pradesh and constitutes 2.60 per cent of the state’s population.

Written by Faisal Fareed | Lucknow | Updated: February 29, 2016 2:09 am

Four days after BJP president Amit Shah unveiled the statue of Raja Suheldev in Bahraich, a political outfit of the Rajbhar community Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party announced it would oppose the BJP’s efforts to appropriate the 11th century king for political gains.

The SBSP, headed by Om Prakash Rajbhar, has started holding a series of public meetings to mobilise opinion in the Rajbhar community against the BJP’s efforts.

“This is just an election gimmick. It happens when elections approach. Why did they not do it before? We are telling our community to be cautious of the BJP agenda,” Rajbhar told The Indian Express.

The Rajbhar community has a presence in nearly 125 assembly seats in eastern Uttar Pradesh and constitutes 2.60 per cent of the state’s population.

Rajbhar claims that in 62 assembly seats, the Rajbhars need a little support from other communities to win those seats.

The SBSP has tied up with the Qaumi Ekta Dal of MLA Mukhtar Ansari.

O P Rajbhar formed SBSP in October 2002. In 2012, it fielded 52 candidates and got 4.70 lakh votes; though it did not win any seats, its candidates crossed 30,000 votes in three seats, with Om Prakash Rajbhar himself getting over 48,000 votes in Zahoorabad.

Rajbhar addressed a meeting in Azamgarh Sunday and will address another in Mau Monday. He has scheduled seven more meetings, one a day, from March 9 to 15 in Mau, Ambedkarnagar, Basti, Ballia, Deoria, Kushinagar, Gorakhpur and Maharajganj. Rajbhar said some political parties have even tried to project Raja Suheldev as a Dalit but he belonged to Bhar community and there is historical evidence.

“Our community is now enlightened and the BJP’s efforts will fail. During Amit Shah’s meeting at Bahraich on February 24, hardly 100 Rajbhar community members attended the rally, although there are 50,000 Rajbhar in Bahraich,” he said.

During his tenure as CM, Rajnath Singh had Raja Suheldev’s statue installed at the Lalbagh crossing in Lucknow.
The BSP, for its part, had another statue installed in Sarnath. Now the BJP is aggressively wooing the community while BSP has roped in two senior leaders – state president Ram Achal Rajbhar and former assembly speaker Sukhdev Rajbhar — to campaign among their community.

Mulayam Singh Yadav, meanwhile, has selected Ram Jatan Rajbhar as MLC from his parliamentary constituency of Azamgarh.

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