In a major organisational reshuffle this week, the BJP included Union Minister Bhupender Yadav and former MP Sudha Yadav — two of its leaders from Haryana — in the party’s central election committee. Sudha has also been inducted into the BJP’s parliamentary board — the party’s highest decision-making body.
Many saw in their inclusion a snub to the party’s Gurgaon MP, Rao Inderjit Singh, a prominent leader from the state’s Ahirwal region that includes Rewari, Mahendragarh, Gurgaon and parts of Bhiwani, Dadri, Nuh and Jhajjar and Rajasthan’s Alwar.
A Kargil war martyr’s wife, Sudha had defeated Rao, who was then in Congress, from south Haryana’s Mahendragarh seat in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections. But Rao later made a comeback, defeating Sudha twice — in the parliamentary elections of 2004 and 2009, from Mahendragarh and Gurgaon respectively.
Then, ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Rao left the Congress to join the BJP.
A Union Minister of State for the past eight years in the Narendra Modi Cabinet, Rao’s supporters say he never quite got his due in the BJP. A five-time MP and four-time MLA, Rao, they point out, never made it to the Union Cabinet in the last eight years. Sources close to him say Rao was also upset with the party for not fielding his daughter Aarti Rao in the 2019 Assembly polls from Rewari.
Sources say Rao hasn’t had his way in the state either. Om Prakash Yadav and Banwari Lal, ministers in the Khattar Cabinet who are considered to be in Rao’s camp, have been given minor portfolios – Yadav holds the portfolios of Social Justice and Empowerment and Sainik and Ardh Sainik Welfare while Lal is minister for Welfare of SCs and BCs.
Worse, in October last year, Rao was dropped from the BJP’s national executive. On the other hand, Sudha and Bhupender have been inducted in the BJP’s central election committee.
While Bhupender hails from Jamalpur village in Gurgaon, he is a two-time Rajya Sabha MP from Rajasthan and was made part of the BJP’s national executive from its Haryana quota in 2021.
The induction of Sudha and Bhupender is now being seen as an attempt by the BJP to project the two as a parallel power centre to Rao in the Ahirwal region. Rao is a descendant of Rao Tularam, the erstwhile king of Ahirwal region.
Rao’s supporters had similarly felt uneasy in the recent past, when Bhupender led a Jan Ashirward Yatra across south Haryana in August 2021
A close aide of Rao, who did not wish to be named, said, “It’s a signal for us. We have to keep a close eye on these political developments. Two Yadavs from the Ahirwal region have been inducted in the BJP’s central election committee. The Yadavs have a considerable presence only in about 15 Assembly constituencies in Ahirwal and the party could have easily chosen Yadavs from Bihar or UP, where they are a bigger force. So, there’s evidently a political message here. The party is probably trying to get leaders in place in this region should Rao Inderjit Singh explore other options.”
Of late, Rao has been openly critical of the party and the Khattar-led state government.
A few days ago, speaking in Rewari at the inauguration of a library, Rao had alleged that “the Jaichands in BJP” were responsible for the defeat of Sunil Musepur, his associate and party candidate in the 2019 Assembly election from Rewari. He was apparently referring to Arvind Yadav, a Khattar confidant and chairman of the Haryana State Co-operative Apex Bank, and former Rewari MLA Randhir Kapriwas. Arvind and Kapriwas were aspirants for the BJP ticket that eventually went to Musepur.
Speaking at the function, Rao said: “Those who worked against the party for at least six years were forgiven… the
party should keep that in mind. The Ahirwals voted for the Congress when they were in power. We voted for the BJP when the party was in power. Our votes matter only during elections… This has happened time and again.”
As his supporters raised slogans projecting him as next CM, Rao had insisted, “We have to struggle for our rights. If we don’t struggle, nobody will give us any importance.”
Last year, in Jhajjar, Rao had organised ‘Shaheedi Diwas Samaroh’, a rally that was seen as a show of strength. Six BJP MLAs considered to be in his camp, including two state ministers, had come together to put up the show. Rao had then hit out at his opponents, who, he said, were “writing obituaries” of his political career.
Arvind Yadav, Rao’s bete noire in Ahirwal politics, terms the induction of Sudha and Bhupender an “organisational
“Their induction will prove to be an advantage for the party in Haryana, Rajasthan, UP and Bihar. Rao Inderjit Singh need not worry. If the party feels that Rao sahab should be fielded in the election from Gurgaon, he will be fielded,” said Arvind Yadav.