Voters in eastern Rajasthan’s Bharatpur Lok Sabha constituency, an erstwhile Jat kingdom, rue its inclusion in the National Capital Region and Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) which has put the brakes on the region’s industrial growth. As the successive governments failed to promote non-polluting industries, the youths here are mostly without work.
Once represented by veteran leaders such as Natwar Singh, Rajesh Pilot, Ram Kishan and Vishvendra Singh, Bharatpur was declared a reserved constituency for the Scheduled Castes in the 2008 delimitation. Since then, the electoral battle has shifted from the erstwhile royals to Dalit communities, including Jatavs and Kolis, as the political parties seek to exploit their fault lines.
Congress candidate Abhijeet Kumar Jatav has joined politics after taking voluntary retirement from Indian Revenue Service. The BJP denied ticket to its sitting MP Bahadur Singh Koli and fielded Ranjeeta Koli, daughter-in-law of three-time parliamentarian Ganga Ram Koli. Bahujan Samaj Party’s Suraj Pradhan Jatav poses a challenge to both, while expecting to polarise Jatav voters.
If the 2018 State Assembly election results are any indication, Congress should have an upper hand here, as it had won six out of the eight Assembly segments, along with its ally the Rashtriya Lok Dal, in this constituency. The BJP drew a blank and the BSP won two seats — Nagar and Nadbai. RLD winner Subhash Garg has been appointed a Minister of State in the Congress government.
Though Deeg-Kumher MLA and Minister Vishvendra Singh, a scion of the royal family, is trying hard to get the support of Jats for the Congress, the party is finding it difficult to bridge the chasm created between Jats and Jatavs since the Kumher massacre of 1992, when 15 persons were killed and 300 houses of Dalit Jatavs were set ablaze.
Dr. Garg told The Hindu that since the establishment of coal-based industries was not possible in Bharatpur because of the NCR and TTZ status, the government’s emphasis should be on the creation of jobs in IT sectors. “The BJP MP did not take any initiative in this regard. No action has been taken to establish a special economic zone here,” he said.
Shortage of water for irrigation because of low supply in the Gurgaon Canal and lack of extension of the Chambal project to more tehsils of the district is a major issue affecting the villagers.
The brick kilns, which dotted Bharatpur’s skyline in the past, have shut down without creation of alternative sources of livelihood for jobless labourers. Similarly, the ghee and oil units dependent on mustard production are slowly closing down because of high taxes. Bharatpur is the largest mustard growing division in the State.