By Muslim Mirror Staff
In the midst of a political storm surrounding derogatory comments made by Lok Sabha MP Ramesh Bidhuri against BSP MP Danish Ali during a session in the Lok Sabha, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has promoted Bidhuri and assigned him an important poll responsibility in Tonk district, Rajasthan.
Tonk district, which comprises four assembly seats, including the one currently held by senior Congress leader Sachin Pilot, is of particular interest to the BJP. With a substantial Gurjar community presence, the party believes that Bidhuri, who also hails from the Gurjar caste, can play a pivotal role in garnering votes. Sachin Pilot, a prominent figure in the Gurjar community, is the incumbent representative from Tonk.
Bidhuri’s new role is akin to being the party’s poll in-charge for the district, according to sources within the BJP. In a district where Meenas and Muslims constitute the other significant communities, the Gurjar vote is a coveted one.
In the district, there are approximately 10.54 lakh voters, out of which around 1.09 lakh, constituting about 10.3%, are Muslims. The Tonk Assembly seat has the highest number of Muslims, with approximately 62,000 Muslim voters among its 2.45 lakh total voters. Additionally, there are 45,000 Scheduled Castes, 35,000 Gujjars, 16,000-18,000 Malis, 15,000 Brahmins, 12,000 Jats, and about 5,000 Rajputs in this constituency.
Niwai has a significant population of Scheduled Castes, followed by Scheduled Tribes and Gujjars, while the Muslim population is relatively small at around 15,000. Deoli-Uniara boasts the largest number of Scheduled Tribes among the four Tonk seats, with approximately 62,000, followed by Scheduled Castes and Gujjars, while the Muslim population is around 13,000. In Malpura, there are about 60,000 Jats, followed by Scheduled Castes and Gujjars, with the Muslim population numbering around 20,000.
While Sachin Pilot’s seat appears secure, there is concern that Hindu-Muslim polarization may impact the other three seats in the district. Tonk-Sawai Madhopur MP Sukhbir Singh Jaunapuria and Malpura MLA Kanhaiya Lal have faced FIRs, including charges related to inciting riots. Inside the Assembly, Kanhaiya Lal has alleged ‘land jihad’ in Malpura and claimed a Hindu exodus.
The BJP’s strategy appears to be centred on Hindu consolidation, and this is further motivated by AIMIM’s attempts to make inroads in Tonk and field candidates in the region. Earlier this year, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi held a rally in Tonk district, encouraging the Muslim community to unite and strengthen their political influence to address their grievances and concerns.
Owaisi also cited data from the National Family Health Survey, highlighting that the prevalence of malnourished children under 5 years old in Rajasthan was highest among Muslims, standing at 32%, compared to the state average of 28%. Additionally, he pointed out that figures for wasting, stunting, and anaemia among Muslim children were worse than the state averages, raising questions about responsibility for these issues.
Notably, Owaisi also commended Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla for his role in advocating for reservation, citing the example of the Gujjar community’s protest on railway tracks. He underscored the need for Muslim leadership in the area.
Recently, Bidhuri stirred controversy with derogatory comments directed at Danish Ali during a session in the Lok Sabha. “Yeh ugrawaaadi (militant), yeh aatankwaadi hai (terrorist), ugrawaadi hai, yeh aantankwaadi hai,” Bidhuri can be heard shouting during the proceedings. He also referred to Ali as a “Mullah aatankwadi, bharwa (pimp) and katwa (circumcised).”
This sparked outrage from the opposition, who demanded his suspension from the House. The BJP issued a show-cause notice to Bidhuri. Despite this, Bidhuri continues to wield significant influence in his South Delhi constituency, making him a valuable asset for the party.