Modi’s cabinet reshuffle: From Rajasthan, a Jat for a Jat, and SC for an SC balancing act

Jats are the most influential and politically aware community in Rajasthan.

Written by Mohammad Hamza Khan | Jaipur | Updated: July 5, 2016 5:02 pm
Cabinet reshuffle, Prime Minster Modi, Modi Cabinet, Modi Cabinet reshuffle, Arjun Ram Meghwal, C R Chaudhary, Nihal Chand, Rajasthan, Sanwar Lal, Taking their oath, Arjun Ram Meghwal (L) and C R Chaudhary (R).

While inducting four MPs from Rajasthan as ministers in the union cabinet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also dropped two MPs from the state as ministers.

Sanwar Lal Jat, a Lok Sabha MP from Rajasthan’s Ajmer has been dropped as a Minister of State in the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation while Nihal Chand Meghwal, MP from Ganganagar was dropped as Minister of State in the Ministry of Panchayati Raj. While Sanwar Lal Jat is a Jat, Meghwal is an Scheduled Caster leader and was elected from the reserved constituency of Ganganagar; both are politically important communities in the state. However, their removal isn’t expected to create ruffles in the state. The primary reason for the removal of Sanwar Lal Jat is said to be his poor health which has affected his engagements as a minister as well as back home in his constituency.

Jats are the most influential and politically aware community in Rajasthan. Currently, out of the 18 general Lok Sabha seats in the state – excluding four SC and three ST for a total of 25 seats – Jats have been elected from seven LS constituencies. Apart from Sanwar Lal, there is Santosh Ahlawat (Jhunjhunu), C R Chaudhary (Nagaur), Col. (Retd.) Sona Ram Chaudhary, Rahul Kaswan (Churu), Sumedhanand Saraswati (Sikar), as well as Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s son Dushyant Singh (Jhalawar-Baran).

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And irrespective of whether Congress or BJP is in power, a Jat has traditionally been sent to the union cabinet from Rajasthan. In the previous UPA government, for example, Sis Ram Ola, Mahadeo Singh Khandela and Lal Chand Kataria were union ministers for varying terms.

On Monday, with rumours doing the rounds of Sanwar Lal being dropped, the Rajasthan Jat Mahasabha jumped the gun and lodged a protest with the BJP over being “ignored” in the union council of ministers, stating that there should be at least one union minster from Rajasthan’s Jat community.

On Tuesday, the induction of Nagaur MP C R Chaudhary as a minister of state has assuaged their fears. Likewise, Nihal Chand Meghwal, an SC was dropped but Bikaner MP Arjun Ram Meghwal, also an SC, has been inducted.

Nihal Chand was said to be found wanting in performance as a minister. Also, a case of sexual assault against him and 16 others, earlier closed, had re-emerged to embarrass the party. In 2014, he was issued court summons as a union minister in a 2011 case where a real estate agent’s wife had been allegedly raped by him and others, after the agent reportedly sought political gains.

Former IAS officer Arjun Ram Meghwal, now a minister, is better known for cycling to the Parliament and as the BJP’s chief whip in Lok Sabha; he was also awarded the Best Parliamentarian Award in 2013.

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