Explained: As INDIA Alliance Tries Its Luck In Rajasthan, Challenges For CPI(M) And RLP As It Takes On BJP

In Rajasthan, the political arena is bipolar and is dominated by the Congress and BJP, leaving hardly any space for a third political force to emerge.


(Photo: Tabeenah Anjum for Outlook)
A Rally In support of Amra Ram in Sikar (Photo: Tabeenah Anjum for Outlook)

On Tuesday, March 26, the District Collector's office in the Sikar district of Rajasthan witnessed a galore of political bigwigs --including central and state leaders from the ruling BJP, the opposition Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) -- who had come to be a part of the nomination filing of farmer leader and CPI(M) candidate Amra Ram and two-time member parliament Sumedhanand Saraswati of BJP.

The INDIA Alliance has fielded two candidates in Rajasthan, CPI(M) leader Amra Ram who is also the National Vice President of All India Kisan Sabha and a four-time MLA from Sikar and the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) supremo Hanuman Beniwal for the Lok Sabha election from Rajasthan’s Sikar and Nagaur constituency, following an alliance formed with the Opposition Congress.


Farmer leader takes on BJP in Shekhawati region

In Sikar Amra Ram will contest against Sumedhanand Saraswati of BJP in the upcoming polls. The seriousness of the alliance could be sensed on the day of the nomination, Ram was flanked by senior Congress leaders such as former chief minister Ashok Gehlot, State Congress President Govind Singh Dotasara, CPI(M) Politburo member Brinda Karat.

Dotasara is a four-time Congress MLA from the Laxmangarh constituency and a Jat leader, who has a strong hold in the Shekhawati constituency. Before Ram's name was announced there were rumours that he may be fielded from the region, dominated by the Jat community.


Known for raising the voices of farmers, Amra Ram in the rally, just after the nominations, said, "We are confident that we will sweep Sikar with the help of the Congress party. We are raising concerns on bigger issues such as inflation, unemployment, MSP, and prices of petrol. In BJP's regime, the common people of India and their issues stay unheard".

Ram, who had won thrice from the Dhod constituency (In 1993, 1998 and 2003) and one-time MLA from Danta Ramgarh constituency (In 2008). Later he lost three elections in Danta Ramgarh including 2023 to Congress' Virendra Singh. Interestingly CPI(M) stood third here, while BJP secured second place.

His concerns were echoed by Karat who hailed the party's candidate. "The democracy is in danger and the BJP has sabotaged our constitution. We are fighting with a purpose, not for a chair. The purpose is to save our constitution and democratic rights", she said. Both Dotasara and Gehlot besides targeting the BJP govt in Rajasthan and the centre assured that they would extend their full support.

On the other hand, the BJP has once again fielded its incumbent MP Sumedhanand Saraswati from Sikar, who had won with a margin of 2.5 lakh votes in 2019. In his nomination, the BJP's bigwigs including Chief Minister Bhajan Lal Sharma, deputy chief minister Diya Kumari and several leaders were present. In his first rally after the nomination, 72-year-old Saraswati urged people to make it a hat trick in Rajasthan and vote for BJP and Modi once again.


Battlefield of Nagaur

In Nagaur constituency the RLP leader Hanuman Beniwal, has been pitted by the INDIA Alliance against Jyoti Mirdha, who has been fielded by the BJP from the seat.

Mirdha, who had joined the BJP last year ahead of the Assembly election is the grand-daughter of former Union Minister, the late Nathuram Mirdha. She was the Nagaur MP during 2009-2014 and lost to Beniwal in 2019 from the same seat. What is interesting is that the duo, known to be the prominent Jat leaders are in a fight against each other but have swapped the sides.


Known to be a detractor of former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, Beniwal formed the RLP in 2018 with the support of Jats. In 2019, he allied with the BJP and contested from Nagaur and won the Lok Sabha polls with the help of the saffron party. However, two years later he parted ways from the BJP, during the farmers’ agitation. In 2023 after winning assembly polls from Khimsar, he resigned from the post of MP.

Speculations became rife that Beniwal could be a candidate for the India Alliance after his close confidant Ummeda Ram Beniwal resigned from the RLP to join the grand old Congress party.


Challenges for the INDIA Alliance in Rajasthan

In Rajasthan, the political arena is bipolar and is dominated by the Congress and BJP, leaving hardly any space for a third political force to emerge. But following the two consecutive electoral losses for the Congress in the 2014 and 2019 elections, wherein the party couldn't score a single seat, they were forced to look for the collations.

Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) chief Hanuman Beniwal and Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s Amra Ram, are the two candidates out of 25, who have been fielded as the INDIA Alliance's candidates, supported by the Congress party, not be fielding its candidates in the Sikar and Nagaur Lok Sabha seats. Both Beniwal and Ram belong to the Jat community.


One of the most important challenges for the India Alliance will be to transfer the Congress votes in Sikar and Nagaur to CPI(M) and RLP.

In Sikar, where communal polarization is less and farmer movements have more prominence, the India Alliance apart from the Congress' vote bank is also banking on All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), the farmer wing of the CPI(M), which has a large cadre base.

But what remains to be seen is if Amra Ram can gather the full support from Congress on the ground. After his nomination, he met several Congress stalwarts from the Shekhawati region, including former minister Mahadev Singh Khandela, former Congress MLA Chaudhary Ranmal Singh, former speaker Deepindra Singh Shekhawat and sought their support.


"Amra Ram went to seek support from Narayan Singh, the former Congress president and father of Virendra Singh, the sitting MLA from Danta Ramgarh. But Virendra Singh never showed up in the meeting, neither in the Congress office nor when Ram filed the nomination. So, taking everyone along, especially from the Congress is one of the important challenges", a senior Congress leader told Outlook.

In Sikar, Congress won five out of eight seats in the 2023 assembly polls. Out of five MLAs, three are from the Jat community.

Similarly in Nagaur, the major challenge for Beniwal will be Jyoti Mirdha, who herself is a prominent Jat leader. Recently, out of the 25 Congress leaders crossing over to BJP, former Congress MLAs Richpal Mirdha and Vijaypal Mirdha ( the father and son duo) from the Mirdha family, are considered politically influential in the Jat-dominated Nagaur and nearby areas could be a jolt to the grand old party. Vijaypal had won the Degana seat on a Congress ticket in 2018 but lost to Ajay Singh in 2023. Both are related to Jyoti Mirdha, who had quit Congress ahead of the 2023 assembly polls and has been nominated as the BJP's candidate from Nagaur for the Lok Sabha elections.


"Congress took long to decide not to field anyone from these two constituencies. Earlier Congress was leaving Churu's seat vacant for the alliance and possibly CPI(M)'s MLA Balwan Poonia would have contested the Lok Sabha election but after Rahul Kaswan joined Congress, the situation changed", a Congress leader shared.

Another challenge for the Congress in the state is to stop the hattrick of 25. Since 2024, the Congress party has been unable to open its account in the state.

Lok Sabha elections in Rajasthan will be held in two phases on April 19 and 26. Nagaur and Sikar are among the 12 parliamentary constituencies where polling will be held in the first phase on April 19.