Rajasthan Ministers Ashok Chandna and Shakuntala Rawat were heckled at a programme to mark the asthi-visarjan (immersion of ashes) programme of late Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla in Ajmer on Monday.
Bainsla (82), the architect of the Gujjar reservation agitation in Rajasthan, had died in Jaipur in March earlier this year.
Led by his son Vijay Bainsla, the ‘asthi kalash’ yatra began from Kotputli on August 17 and covered about 75 Assembly seats in 23 districts, before reaching Pushkar. Thousands from Most Backward Castes (MBC), including Gujjars, had gathered for the programme, which turned out to be a show of strength by the community ahead of Assembly elections in late 2023.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, BJP state president Satish Poonia, former minister Rajendra Rathore, and RLD national president Jayant Chaudhary were present, apart from cabinet ministers Ashok Chandna and Shakuntala Rawat, as well as CM’s son Vaibhav Gehlot.
Ashok Chandna, who was reading a message from CM Ashok Gehlot, was heckled by listeners who hurled footwear in the air, waved them at him and also allegedly hurled some towards the stage as well. People also raised ‘Sachin Pilot zindabad’ slogans during his address and eventually, Chandna had to stop his address midway.
Later, Chanda took to Twitter saying that he witnessed something unbelievable when people clapped for Rajendra Rathore, “who was part of the cabinet that gave the orders for killing 72 martyrs” while “shoes were hurled on those whose family members went to jail” during the reservation agitation. During the reservation agitation in 2007 – 08, with Vasundhara Raje-led BJP in power, a total of over 70 persons were killed in police firings in May 2007 and in May 2008.
In another tweet a few hours later, Chandna said, “If Sachin Pilot becomes the Chief Minister after getting shoes thrown at me, then he should do so quickly because I am not in the mood to fight today. The day I come to fight, only one will be left, and I don’t want this.”
Rawat, who spoke before Chandna, was similarly heckled by the crowd but completed her address.
Later, Bainsla’s ashes were immersed in Pushkar lake. After retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1994, Bainsla spearheaded several agitations for reservation of people from five communities including Gujjars.