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Gurjjars make presence felt,‘mahapanchayat’ throws weight behind BSP man

After the Jats dominated the political and caste canvas of the Capital last week,the Gurjjars tried to make their presence felt by organising a ‘Gurjjar Mahapanchayat’ in Chhattarpur on Sunday.

Written by Chinki Sinha | New Delhi |
March 30, 2009 3:09:02 am

After the Jats dominated the political and caste canvas of the Capital last week,the Gurjjars tried to make their presence felt by organising a ‘Gurjjar Mahapanchayat’ in Chhattarpur on Sunday.

With Delhi going to the Lok Sabha polls on May 7,the Jats had organised a ‘mahapanchayat’ last Sunday to protest against the BJP’s denial of a Lok Sabha ticket to Parvesh Verma.

Gurjjar village pradhans from at least 36 villages under the South Delhi constituency attended the ‘mahapanchayat’ on Sunday to support Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Kanwar Singh Tanwar,who will contest from the South Delhi seat. Tanwar (49),incidentally,was the richest candidate in the Assembly elections last year with assets worth Rs 150 crore. He fought from Chhattarpur where he lost to Congress candidate Balram Tanwar.

While the Congress has pitted Jat candidate and sitting MP Sajjan Kumar on the seat,the BJP has fielded Gurjjar MLA Ramesh Bidhuri from the constituency. Despite his defeat in the Assembly elections last year,Kanwar hopes to add a third dimension of Gurjjar votes to the BSP’s traditional vote bank of Dalits and Muslims. Together with the Gurjjars,they make up for a large chunk of the electorate. With more than two lakh population, Gurjjar votes could be critical in the elections. Dominant among them are those who belong to Lohiya (two villages),Ambavata (one village),and Tanwar (eight villages) gotras.

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The Gurjjar population is localised mainly in the villages of Chhattarpur,apart from Badarpur and Tughlaqabad. Other Assembly constituency seats like Ambedkar Nagar and Deoli are dominated by the Jatavs. Mehrauli has a sizeable Muslim population. Leaders from both groups were present at the ‘mahapanchayat’. Tanwar is banking on the inroads made into the community by his party through regular bhaichara meetings and the reported disenchantment with the Congress and the BJP after protests over reservation in Rajasthan last year.

“They made promises which they failed to keep,” Tanwar said referring to the Gurjjar agitation in Rajasthan. “Panchon ke faisle ko Parmeshwar bhi nahi badal sakta. The BJP has betrayed us in Rajasthan where 70 of our people died. The Congress overlooked the issue. Now it is time to decide and we are with Tanwar,” said Jagdish Pradhan of Dera village

near Ghitorni.

Tanwar,however,remained evasive on the issue. “We are not making any commitment. Behenji (Mayawati) has said she will give reservation to upper castes but we will see. We want development in the villages,” Tanwar said.

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