Kirori Singh Bainsla, who led the Gujjar agitation in Rajasthan, joined the BJP today days before the country goes to polls. The Gujjar leader and his son Vijay Bainsla were welcomed into the party by BJP chief Amit Shah and senior leader Prakash Javadekar in Delhi.
"I have seen rarest of rare qualities in Prime Minister Narendra Modi and that's why I am joining the BJP," Kirori Singh Bainsla told news agency PTI.
This is the second time Kirori Singh Bainsla is joining the BJP. In 2009 he had contested on a BJP ticket from Tonk-Sawai Madhopur constituency against Congress' Namo Narain Meena but had lost by a narrow margin. Since he lost the elections, Bainsla distanced himself from the BJP but maintained considerable clout on the local Gujjar community.
Political analysts believe that Kirori Singh Bainsla can influence voters of his community in as many as 30 seats in Rajasthan. The community that makes up nine per cent of the population in the state and could impact the Lok Sabha seats, especially in east Rajasthan and in Bhilwara, Ajmer and Rajsamand.
In the Assembly elections last year, the Congress benefited from the Gujjar votes, when the party pushed Sachin Pilot,belonging to the Gujjar community, at the forefront of their campaign. Sachin Pilot had managed to swing the Gujjar vote decisively towards the Congress, resulting in seven of their candidates winning.
The BJP lost out on the crucial Gujjar vote bank with all of its nine lawmakers losing the elections in the December polls.
After the February Gujjar agitation, Bainsla had said that he would go with any party that gives the community five per cent reservation in government jobs and educational institutions.
The Gujjar agitation had brought Rajasthan and the adjoining states to a standstill earlier in February, after they blocked roads and railway tracks. Around 300 trains were cancelled after Gujjar protesters sat on train tracks for nearly two weeks.
The Gujjars called off their agitation after the Rajasthan assembly passed a bill granting 5 per cent quota to the community in government jobs, schools and colleges but the legal hurdles remained. The High Court had on two earlier occasions turned down petitions, saying the quota exceeded the Supreme Court's laid down limit of 50 per cent.
A 1962 war veteran, Kirori Singh Bainsla was taken as a prisoner of war in 1965. His father too had served in the British Indian Army.