NEW DELHI: With his efforts to bring about a mutual accommodation between Gujjar and Meena communities so that their political animosities decline to the extent of accepting co-existence, Congress leader Sachin Pilot has given a new dimension to the caste equations in Rajasthan that could make him an attractive ally for BJP. Pilot has made his party leadership jittery, not the least as legislators from the two assertive communities view him favourably. Among the MLAs who skipped the Congress legislature party (CLP) meeting on Monday, risking the ire of the brass, were at least five from the Meena community. Given his stature as a Gujjar leader, Pilot will find these MLAs handy supporters. Though he has denied contact with BJP, Pilot’s reach with both communities can potentially ease matters for the saffron party. BJP will not need to worry much about a negative Meena reaction should it reach a deal with the Congress leader. State cabinet minister Ramesh Meena, a former BJP MP from Dausa and now a Congress MLA from Deoli-Uniyara in Sawai Madhopur district, and Harish Meena were among the five legislators who pledged support to Pilot. Their open defiance of the party high command was a clear indication of accepting Pilot as their leader, something unthinkable a few years ago, when the Gujjar and Meena communities were daggers drawn over Scheduled Caste status. After becoming an MP from Dausa in 2004, Pilot scripted and acted on the ‘Gujjar-Meena unity’ campaign, holding solidarity rallies in eastern Rajasthan, the hub of the two communities. Dausa, Sawai Madhopur, Bharatpur, Jaipur Rural and Karauli have a dominant presence of the two castes. In 2018, when Pilot spearheaded the poll campaign, Congress swept eastern Rajasthan and won 42 of 49 seats, a major factor in the BJP’s rout in the state. The results were an indication that both communities voted in favour of Congress, which gained as a result. Pilot took a cue from his father, the late Rajesh Pilot, a two-time Lok Sabha MP from Dausa and Bharatpur, as he enjoyed support of both communities, apart from strong backing from Dalit voters. However, as soon as the Gujjar community staked claim to its share in the ST quota in government jobs and educational institutions, the biggest beneficiary of the category, Meenas, were enraged and the two communities had a long spell of violent clashes. Peace returned recently when the Gujjars realised the futility of demanding ST status and launched a campaign for share in the OBC category.


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