Former Union Minister Jaswant Singh’s son and Sheo MLA Manvendra Singh is the latest among the disgruntled leaders who might dent the BJP’s hold among key communities ahead of the Assembly elections, party workers say.
Manvendra Singh, who announced Saturday he is quitting the party, is said to have a significant influence in the Rajput community in western Rajasthan.
The others leaders who could make a difference in the BJP’s caste equations in the state include Brahmin MLA Ghanshyam Tiwari, firebrand Jat leader Hanuman Beniwal and Gujjar agitation’s poster boy Kirori Singh Bainsla.
Like Manvendra Singh, they all have expressed resentment against the Bharatiya Janata Party, with which they once identified.
Manvendra Singh claimed that the ‘swabhiman’ of the Rajput community was hurt when the BJP did not give his father and veteran leader Jaswant Singh the ticket to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Singh is now likely to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Barmer and may field his wife from his Sheo Assembly seat.
Observers say the scion of the erstwhile Jasol royal family may eat into the BJP vote, riding on “sympathy” for his father in the Rajput community, often considered to be a BJP vote bank.
Six-time BJP MLA Ghanshyam Tiwari has been opposing the party leadership within the Assembly and outside. After being served notice by the BJP for indiscipline, the popular Brahmin leader resigned from the party to form his `Bharat Vahini Party’.
He is now trying to create an anti-BJP momentum in the state, urging like-minded leaders to join him.
Hanuman Beniwal, a Jat leader from Nagaur who is regarded a crowd puller at political rallies, may also have some impact on the sentiment in the region. He was elected on a BJP ticket from Khinvsar Assembly seat in 2008, but quit the BJP because of differences with the state party leadership.
Another possible spoilsport is Kirori Singh Bainsla, who stormed into limelight in 2008 for demanding reservations in government jobs and education for five communities, including the Gujjars.
Though Bainsla has not announced any plan to contest the year-end elections yet, he may still exert influence among the Gujjars in eastern Rajasthan.
Bainsla had recently threatened to disrupt Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje `Gaurav Yatra’ in Bharatpur division. That leg of the ‘yatra’, however, was cancelled after former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s death.
The party, however, has managed to get back another caste leader, Kirori Lal Meena, after he quit the party.