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Karni Sena factor in Congress victory in Rajasthan
Groups set off celebratory mayhem over BJP loss
By Sushil Kutty
The Congress won the Rajasthan by-polls even as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was rolling out Budget 2018-19, which the Congress said was a "flop". A question being asked is: what is the Karni Sena celebrating about? One report said Karni Sena members broke out in lusty cheers, began to sing and dance with wild abandon, and set off fireworks, and "generally created celebratory mayhem".

But the Samajwadi Party also celebrated, in Uttar Pradesh. SP spokesperson Ghanshyam Tiwari declared that the BJP was in the doldrums and that was that - an end of the Modi-Shah honeymoon with the Indian electorate.

And, nervous to the point of hopeful collapse, anti-Modi political analyst Swati Chaturvedi sounded like she was praying political parties opposed to the Modi-Shah combine would stay stuck together from now to general elections.

Rajasthan Congress unit president Sachin Pilot, victor off all he surveyed after the by-poll victories, chose to give the credit for his party winning all three seats, one of them an assembly constituency, to people fed up with the "divisive politics" of the BJP. To this, Chaturvedi added the "murder of Pehlu Khan by the cow vigilante".

Nobody spoke of the role played by the #GoonsOfKarniSena, a little-known "fringe" Rajput outfit which built its politics around Sanjay Leela Bhansali's period-drama Padmaavat, claiming no political affiliation either to the Congress or the BJP till as long as the drama lasted, but now quite apparent that it was rooting for a Congress victory, working for a Congress triumph all along.

Padmaavat was not banned as was demanded by Karni Sena. That was not the objective. The whole shebang was to wrest the Rajput vote from the BJP to the Congress. What the Congress Party has promised the Karni Sena for the support would be known only when assembly elections are announced in the state later this year and tickets are distributed.

Afar the by-poll results were declared on February 1, "Rajput pride" outfits such as Karni Sena gathered at the Rajput Sabha Bhavan in Jaipur and celebrated louder than the Congress Party did its wins in Ajmer, Alwar and Mandalgarh.

"The BJP governments at the Centre and in Rajasthan betrayed the Rajput community on Padmaavat" was the reasoning given by the Karni Sena, a statement which was repeatedly made by Karni Sena representatives on TV talk shows prior to the by-polls and when the movie was in the thick of controversy.

"The BJP's defeat in the by-polls is a result of the ruling party's disregard for Rajput sentiments." A group called 'Rajput World News' tweeted: "Because of Bhand #Bhansali Today #BJP paid a #Big Pricein #Rajasthan#ByElectionResult2018 #RajasthanByPolls #RajasthanBypollResults #Rajput #Padmavati #Rajputana."

Another twitter handle 'Shri Rajput Karni Sena' retweeted that tweet. It was the same "Shri Rajput Karni Sena" which had tweeted that Karni Sena had nothing to do with the attack on the school bus in Gurugram a few days before Padmaavat was released on January 25.

The BJP, somehow, failed to see the Congress game-plan in time. Or, probably, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not want to carry with him to Davos and the World Economic Forum reports of his government pandering to regressive Hindutva "fringe" standing in the way of freedom of expression. India was on the world stage and Bollywood was a big component of India's "soft-power".

So, "Rajput pride" took a back seat and the likes of Karni Sena drifted to the Congress camp, may be as part of a considered move or because the BJP failed to give importance to "Rajput pride" and drove the Rajput into the Congress's embrace.

But if that was so why did everyone and the man on the moon keep insisting that the Karni Sena was not representative of the majority of the Rajput community but was a "fringe group" of lumpen elements with criminal records? And why were these lumpen elements now celebrating the Congress victories in the by-polls?

Some of them said they were not celebrating a Congress victory; they were celebrating a BJP loss! "This isn't joy that the Congress won, nor is it sadness the BJP lost, what to do? This is our (Rajputs') fight for self-esteem/pride" one tweet read. "This is not the victory of a party, it is the victory of our 'Sangharsh Samiti'. Public supported our 'Sangharsh' (struggle) and voted against BJP. If BJP follows the same trend, the results will remain the same," ANI quoted a Karni Sena member as saying.

—(IPA Service)

News Updated at : Thursday, February 8, 2018
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