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Rajasthan: Crossover Of 25 Congress Leaders To BJP Hints At The Saffron Party's Focus On OBC Votes

Of the 25 Congress leaders crossing over to BJP, are former Congress MLAs Richpal Mirdha, Vijaypal Mirdha, Khiladi Bairwa, former independent MLA Alok Beniwal, former State party chief Seva Dal Suresh Chaudhary, Rampal Sharma and Riju Jhunjhunwala.

Former Congress leaders joining BJP at the state headquarter in Jaipur
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Ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, in Rajasthan, the state Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that it repeats its performance from the past two elections, where the saffron party and its allies won all Lok Sabha seats in the state.

In a move aimed at boosting the BJP's strength before the elections, the party inducted several senior leaders including former MLAs, MPs and ministers into its ranks on Sunday including former ministers Rajendra Yadav and Lal Chand Kataria.

Kataria and Yadav -- considered close to the former chief minister Ashok Gehlot -- respectively held the post of state agriculture minister and state home minister in the previous Congress regime.

Of the 25 Congress leaders crossing over to BJP, are former Congress MLAs Richpal Mirdha, Vijaypal Mirdha, Khiladi Bairwa, former independent MLA Alok Beniwal, former State party chief Seva Dal Suresh Chaudhary, Rampal Sharma and Riju Jhunjhunwala.

The leaders joined in the presence of Chief Minister Bhajanlal Sharma, state BJP president C P Joshi and Union Minister Bhupendra Yadav at the party headquarters in Jaipur.

Richpal and Vijaypal, 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.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Bhajanlal Sharma, State BJP president C.P. Joshi and Union Minister Bhupendra Yadav welcomed them into the party at its State headquarters in Jaipur. Vijaypal Mirdha is Ricchpal Mirdha's son.

Another Congress leader Khiladi Lal Bairwa, who hails from the Scheduled Caste community, close to Sachin Pilot, also joined the BJP.

Former independent MLA Alok Beniwal the son of of the former governor of Gujarat Kamla Beniwal and Riju Jhunjhunwala, who lost MP polls from a Congress ticket from the Ajmer constituency are among other leaders also joined the ruling party in the state.

BJP's focus on the OBC vote bank

The long list of exits from Congress had started a month ago with another ex-minister, Mahendrajeet Singh Malaviya, who joined the BJP and was recently nominated as the saffron party's candidate for the Banswara Lok Sabha seat.
According to the sources in BJP, the recent crossover of leaders to the saffron folds will give an edge to the party ahead of the Lok Sabha polls in terms of votes. "Rajendra Yadav, who is from the Jaipur rural may have a chance to get the seat after it felt vacant with the Olympian Rajyavardhan Rathore joining the state politics", a BJP leader shared with Outlook.

"The pattern of leaders joining the BJP also hints that the party is trying to create a stronghold in the OBC community as most of them are prominent Jat leaders," a senior BJP leader told Outlook.

In Rajasthan, the BJP has swept all 25 Lok Sabha seats since 2014 and Congress has failed to break the record in the last two consecutive parliamentary elections.

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