Updated: May 23, 2022 7:01:30 pm
The BJP’s Brahmin face in Haryana, Arvind Sharma, had won from Rohtak seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections against formidable odds. Rohtak has been a stronghold of the Congress’s Jat stalwart and ex-chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and the party renominated Hooda’s son Deepender from the constituency, who had been winning it continuously since 2005.
Apparently keeping in view the caste-centric Jat-non-Jat politics of Haryana, the BJP gave its ticket to Sharma in Rohtak seat. He was then a new BJP face, who had joined its fold just ahead of the 2019 polls. Despite being a 3-time MP, he had never won any Lok Sabha or Vidhan Sabha election from Rohtak till then. However, in the election, he trounced Deepender.
Nearly three years after winning the Rohtak battle contrary to expectations, Sharma, 59, is now positioning himself as a serious aspirant of the CM’s post, seeking to play his Brahmin caste card.
Addressing an event of the Brahmin community Sunday, held to mark Parshuram Jayanti in Pahrawar village in Rohtak district, Sharma asserted that Haryana needed a Brahmin CM, even as he called the party’s incumbent CM Manohar Lal Khattar, a Panjabi, a leader who “doesn’t do any work by applying his own mind”.
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In Pahrawar village, Brahmins have been campaigning to reclaim a piece of land, which was donated to the community by the village panchayat in 2009 to build a school, college, hospital and temple on it. The local municipal body had reportedly cancelled the lease of this land when some norms were allegedly not fulfilled.
This land row seems to have become an emotive issue and a rallying point for the Brahmin community in Haryana now. The Sunday rally in Pahrawar village saw a few thousand community members gathering on Sunday wielding “farsa” (axes) in their hands. In his speech at the event, Sharma expressed not only his displeasure over non-restoration of land lease but also projected the community’s aspirations for the state’s top elected post.
Since the formation of Haryana state in 1966, Jat leaders have been at its helms as the CM several times. BJP Rajya Sabha MP DP Vats claims Brahmins are the largest community in Haryana after Jats in terms of population. Having an agriculturist background, Brahmins too are considered a “martial community” in the state like other agrarian communities. Their leaders point out that although a Brahmin Pt. Bhagwat Dayal Sharma had become the first Haryana CM in 1966, none of the community leaders headed the state since, maintaining that it is high time they should get this opportunity too.
Referring to the demand for a Brahmin CM in Haryana, Sharma told The Indian Express, “This is in the mind of people and there is resentment in the community over it. In all these years, neither anyone from the community tried for this post nor the political parties gave it any attention. In the past 56 years, several communities have taken turns to become Chief Minister in the state. Now Brahmins too are waiting for their turn. Brahmins too have their right for it.”
He also said : “In 2014, Ram Bilas Sharma was the state BJP president when the party won the Assembly elections. I don’t know what happened. I am not against the selection of a Panjabi (Khattar) for this post. But it’s better if this is given to everyone in rotation – be it from backward castes (OBCs), Dalits, Brahmins or Jats. There should be a balance in this. It’s not good that the Brahmin community is ignored.”
Sharma further said, “There are 36 biradaris (communities) in a Brahmin just like there are 33 crore deities in a gau mata (cow). Brahmins have the capacity to take everyone along. We have proved it too. Like, we won elections from Sonipat (Ramesh Kaushik), Karnal (Arvind Sharma himself in 2005, 2009 ) and Rohtak (Arvind Sharma). Anyone wins an election only when he gets support from all communities.”
Sharma denied that he has been harbouring the ambition to become the Haryana CM for several years. “I just want to be a sewak of the people, not a leader,” he claimed.
He had won his first election in 1996 from the Sonipat parliamentary constituency as an Independent candidate. “My grandfather Sant Pandit Janki Prasad was a Kabirpanthi and used to conduct satsang at the homes of the poor. His followers played a role when I became an Independent MP,” he recalled.
Sharma represented the Karnal parliamentary constituency twice, in 2005 and 2009, as a Congress candidate. He also contested the 2014 election as a Congress nominee from Karnal, but lost the election to the BJP’s Ashwini Chopra, a media baron. Subsequently, he left the Congress and joined the BSP. But, in March 2019, he switched to the BJP and went on to beat Deepender in Rohtak seat. His native village MP Majra is located in Jhajjar district.
Sharma, who had done his MDS course from Gujarat University, practised as a government medical officer before joining politics in 1996.
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