The state of Gujarat is named after them. They claim to be more than 40 lakh in total population of 7.5 crore in Rajasthan. They claimed 5 percent reservation along with four other castes Rebari, Raika, Gadiya Lohar and Banjara. They are called Gurjars, traditionally a cattle tending community.
Gurjars are enjoying their new found political muscle after a bloody reservation agitation which claimed 72 lives since 2007. Gurjars have many sub clans like Vidhudi, Bainsala, Khatana, Kasana, Harsana, Poswal, Doi, Bhadana, Awana, Dhabhai etc. Dominated by regional caste players, divided among themselves; Gurjar in Rajasthan are struggling hard under the leadership of Col Kirori Singh Bainsala to create an egalitarian group despite odds stacks against them.
Gurjars dominate around a dozen seats but affects result of as many as 60 assembly constituencies in Rajasthan. They have been a traditional BJP vote bank.
There is around 2000 Gurjars of Vidhudi clan in Rajasthan mainly concentrated in Nagar area of Bharatpur district. But in contemporary politics of state, Sachin Pilot – a Vidhudi from Western Uttar Pradesh, is the biggest Gurjar name. Born in Shaharanpur, Sachin Pilot belongs to a village named Vaidpura near Noida. While Col Kirori Singh Bainsala is struggling with various governments for somehow ensuring one percent reservation as SBC for Gurjars, Sachin Pilot has maintained a stoic silence on the issue of reservation. Insiders in his camp swear by his Gurjar credential and insist that he does not wish to antagonize dominant communities like Jats and Meenas in various districts by asserting his caste background. Rather, he has been so skeptic about going all out against Jats as he had not fought a by election in Nasirabad in Ajmer district earlier which he could have easily won. ‘Ranchod’ is how his opponent describes in Congress.
Sauvé, urbane and sophisticated, Sachin Pilot is everything what Gurjar politics is not.
A voracious reader, Kirori Singh Bainsala sits at the helm of leadership of Gurjar community while Sachin Pilot is the biggest Gurjar name in politics of Rajasthan today. With this paradox, Gurjars are going to assert their political power in assembly election in Rajasthan in 2018. A retired Lieutenant Colonel from Jat regiment Bainsala is veteran of 1962 and 1965 war. But soldier in him is fighting battle for Gurjar reservation as the most important battle of his life. Col Bainsala has been flanked by captain Harprasad, Bhura Bhagat who forms the core team of Gurjar agitation while younger lot is represented by Atar Singh Advocate, Himmat Singh, Shailendra Singh and Bainsala’s son Vijay Bainsala.
Under Sachin Pilot – a Vidhudi Gurjar from Western Uttar Pradesh, the woman wing and youth wing of Congress, both have Gujrar state president. His old family friend GR Khatana is Dausa district president and preparing ground for Sachin Pilot for Tonk assembly seat. A huge chunk of muslim votes in the city and rural populace dominated by 40000 Gurjar, Tonk assembly constituency became favorite of Sachin Pilot in a secret mission to find a safe seat away from Jats and Meenas and above all Ashok Gehlot. Earlier, Nagar assembly constituency was probed for suitability for Pilot where more than 2000 Vidhudi clan Gurjars were more than ready to embrace him. But, in Tonk also, there are two usual thorns in soft flash of Sachin Pilot – Ashok Gehlot and Vasundhara Raje. Tonk has a sizable chunk of Mali community vote nearing around 20000 while Vasundahra Raje knows her game more than anyone else.
Vasundhara Raje’s main plank for connecting with various caste ground is Rajasthan has been that she is daughter of a Rajput, a Jat bride and Samdhan of Gurjars. With the shrill and cacophony of election season started to begin, the political attack on Vasundhara Raje in speeches across the state by pilot has not gone down well with the queen. Though Vasundhara Raje has not considered Sachin Pilot as formidable opponent in last four years and has handled him with kid glove, she is not willing to take any chance in the crucial election year. Vasundhara Raje has prepared an anti-dot for Sachin Pilot which Ashok Gehlot would relish. BJP insiders say that Vijay Bainsala, son of Col Kirori Singh Bainsala, will be pitted against Sachin Pilot if he chose to fight from Tonk. Col Bainsala had fought 2009 general election on BJP ticket from Tonk, which would act as a solid ground work for his son’s political career.
Gurjars, otherwise, in politics of Rajasthan are regional satraps who wins on their own with support of community but not fully dependent on caste support base. Jagan Gurjar, the dreaded Chambal decoit, who threatened to blow up Vasundhara Raje’s Raj Mahal Palace of Dholpur, is still looking for right constituency and party to fight election. While Ashok Chandna, son of former dacoit Deva Gurjar, has deepened his roots in Hindoli in Bundi district. Deva Gurjar had cornered many mines and Ashok Chandana has made efficient use of influence, power and money to strengthen his politics. He is a close confidant of Amrinder Singh Raja Barar, National President of Youth Congress and has access to Rahul Gandhi’s core team.
Khetri and Neem-ka-Thana are two Gurjar dominated constituency where sitting MLAs are not Gurjar. Bagdawat Maha-Puran tells us that Gurjars in Khetri belt came from the clan of Sawai Bhoj from central Rajasthan excusing themselves from infighting among brothers. But, squabble, infighting and factionalism-prone Gurjar have not been able to hold the political sway in the area. The squabbling cousins Dataram and Dharampal Gurjar sank the ship another sophisticated Gurjar – Dr Jitendra Singh in 2013 assembly election in Khetri while in contest of Neem Ka Thana turned into Bania versus Rajput, leaving Gurjars high and dry. The legacy and sacrifice of Hajari Lal Gurjar is yet to be redeemed while Bajrang Lal Dhabhai, a close confidant of Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, is enjoying his retired life in Mandawa amidst grandchildren and books.
In the land of Sawai Bhoj in Bhilwara district, three assembly seats namely Mandal, Jahazpur and Asind are decided by Gurjar votes. Kalu Lal Gurjar won Madal for BJP in 2013 while Dhiraj Gurjar won Jahazpura for Congress. Asind is the center for reverence for guajars due to the Sawai Bhoj temple. But another temple made waves recently in Gurjar heartland – Shri Charbhuja Nathji at Kotdi. More than Rs100 crore has been incurred on magnificent temple through crowd funding by Gurjar community led by Dhiraj Gurjar. Dhiraj Gurjar, a young leader who has climbed the ladder of success in politics from his university days, is trying to bring gurjars together through effort of crowd funding for Kotdi temple while smartly putting his family members at various hierarchies of panchayat raj system to keep a firm grip on the region. Dhiraj Gurjar has been a steady player with bright future till recently until he aligned himself with Sachin Pilot. There was ruckus in the final program of Temple opening at Kotdi where angry Gurjars had accused him of politicizing the community function and broke the plaque which carried name of Sachin Pilot.
Dausa, Karauli and Sawai Madhopur has sizable chunk of Gurjar votes which have traditionally balanced Meena influence but except for Gangapur, Gurjars are not in position to dominate on any other seat. Himmat Singh, a close associate of Col Kirori Singh Bainsala, is trying to find a safe seat in Dausa district. But prophecy is that it is better for Himmat Singh to keep a safe distance from electoral politics instead of finding a safe seat. Himmat Singh is trying to piggyback popularity of both Col Bainsala and Hardik Patel without his foot firmly on solid political ground.
In Alwar, the Brahmin is no longer willing to remain reticent particularly in Thanagazi where they always smell a possible victory in a tri-angle fight. Classic fight of Gurjar-Meena in eastern Rajasthan is spiced up by Brahmin angle in Thanagazi which include Sariska tiger reserve. Hem Singh Bhadana got lucky in 2013 with surge of Modi wave but five year down the line, his track record as minister, his performance in constituency and hooliganism of his sons will affect his political future.
Gurjars are also prone to parachuting of the candidates from Delhi, western Uttar Pradesh and parts of Haryana where real estate boom has left them with extra cash to splurge in politics. Sukhbir Singh Jaunpuriya BJP MP from Tonk, Avatar Singh Bhadana is a few names who have tried their luck in Rajashtan and has been reasonably successful. Runaway success for parachutes on Gurjar box office will be – If Sachin Pilot becomes next CM in Rajasthan.
Interestingly, all the seats where Gurjars are power to reckon with are balanced by sizable number of Mali votes.
Thus, Gurjar will think twice before shifting their weight from BJP to Congress even if one of their, notwithstanding from western Uttar Pradesh, is pitching himself to become Chief Minister of Rajasthan. And in end, the most beloved Gurjar leader whom everyone wants to win is – Prahlad Gunjal. He is darling of Gurjars, his followers swore by him but mis-alignment with leadership has cost him much loss. Though, Vasundhara Raje has recently tried to placate him by allotting a bungalow in Gandhi Nagar in Jaipur and other assurances but Gunjal has a problem of controlling his own energy leading to self goal.