Several of the 18 Rajasthan Congress MLAs backing former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot come from castes such as Jat, Meena and Gujjar, communities which hold substantial clout in the state’s electoral politics.
Analysis of the performance of these legislators in 2018 Assembly elections shows that at least 12 of them had won by a margin of more than 10,000 votes, including three of them by more than 40,000 votes.
Pilot himself reached the Vidhan Sabha from Tonk constituency, winning by a margin of more than 54,000 votes.
Sources in the Congress said that if some of the more experienced MLAs in Pilot camp decide to contest elections against the party’s official candidates in future, the party can lose ground in specific areas of their influence.
Ten of these 18 rebel MLAs come from eastern Rajasthan, a region where the Congress won a majority of seats in districts such as Dausa, Karauli, Bharatpur, Sikar, and Jaipur. The 2018 results show the Congress had won in 18 constituencies out of 24 in Dausa, Karauli, Tonk and Sikar districts. Eight MLAs supporting Pilot come from these four districts.
Two legislators won from Jaipur district, where the Congress had captured 10 out of 19 seats in the Assembly polls.
Some rebel MLAs such as Vishvendra Singh, Ramesh Chand Meena, Bhanwarlal Sharma and Brijendra Singh Ola had managed to win in 2013 despite an anti-Congress wave in the state – the party had then won only 21 seats in the 200-member House.
The likes of Vishvendra, Sharma and Meena have been in parties such as BJP, Janata Dal and BSP as well, a senior Congress leader in the state said on the condition of anonymity. “They generally do not depend on the party they are in but count on their individual image or caste support,” this leader said.
While Vishvendra. a former BJP member, comes from the erstwhile royal family of Bharatpur and commands significant influence in the district, Meena had switched from BSP to Congress in 2008 and has not lost an election since then from his constituency – Sapotra in Karauli district. Sharma, a six-time MLA from Sardarsahar, in Churu district, was earlier in Janata Dal and had had a previous stint in the Congress, too.
Eastern Rajasthan also has a large population of people from Gujjars and Meena communities — seven of the rebel MLAs, including Pilot, belong to these two communities.
Pilot, who is from the Gujjar community, has been a Lok Sabha MP from Dausa, from where his late father and mother had also been elected to Parliament. He also was an MP from Ajmer, the region close to which his current Assembly constituency – Tonk – is situated.
In 2018 elections, Pilot camp members Prithviraj won from Todabhim (Karauli district) by 73,306 votes and Murari Lal by 50,948 votes from Dausa — both in eastern Rajasthan.
The rebel group also has the support of five Jat MLAs – Hemaram Choudhary, Mukesh Bhakar, Ramniwas Gawriya, Vishvendra Singh and Brijendra Singh Ola – who have been elected from Jat-dominated areas such as Nagaur, Jhunjhunu and Barmer districts.
Jats are one of the most significant castes in Rajasthan politics.
Some Jat MLAs such as Bhakar and Gawriya are first-time legislators.
Among rebel MLAs from this community, Choudhary is a five-time MLA from Gudamalani in Barmer district, and Ola is son of late Sis Ram Ola, former MP who was a hugely popular Jat leader in the Congress.
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