Rajasthan Brahmins bash Congress for poor representation in LS polls

At a time when the Congress is combating the worst-ever faction feud in Rajasthan, the Brahmins in the state have sounded the war bugle against the party, alleging that the 85 lakh-strong community in the state had switched allegiance to the BJP because the Congress didn't give Lok Sabha tickets to deserving Brahmin candidates.

Speaking to IANS, veteran Congress member Shardakant Sharma said: "The Congress overlooked senior leaders from the Brahmin community and surprisingly gave tickets to weaker candidates who were simply made the sacrificial lambs."

He further asked why the Jaipur Lok Sabha constituency, which has traditionally been a Brahmin seat, was given to Vaishya candidate Jyoti Khandelwal even after a sting operation surfaced showing her settling monetary equations with a contractor.

Shardakant Sharma said that there were around 5 lakh Brahmin voters in the Jaipur constituency, many of whom switched sides and joined the rival camps after Khandelwal was fielded from there.

He also questioned Congress' decision to field Pramod Sharma against former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's son Dushyant Singh from the Jhalwad Baran parliamentary constituency.

"This constituency deserved a strong candidate, but Pramod Sharma was too naive for the post," he said.

Shardakant Sharma also questioned why a weak candidate like Rampal Sharma was fielded from Bhilwara against sitting Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Subhash Baheria.

He said it was surprising that these two candidates were picked by ignoring many senior leaders who could have ensured victory for the party, such as Archana Sharma, Sunil Sharma and Suresh Joshi, among others.

Echoing Shardakant Sharma's views, All India Brahmin Federation President Bhanwarlal Sharma said that the Congress faced a rout in the Lok Sabha elections because the party had ignored the Brahmins.

He also questions on the objectives of the party and said that even on seats where the Brahmins stood strong, the Congress fielded weaker candidates.

"The party did not field any Brahmin candidate in its first list. This speaks volumes," Bhanwarlal Sharma said, adding that in the second list, only two Brahmin names surfaced -- Pramod Sharma and Rampal Sharma -- which left the community all the more aggrieved.

Another senior Congress leader, Suresh Mishra, who is also the all-India President of the Sarv Brahmin Mahasabha, cited a different reason for the community's resentment against the Rajasthan Congress.

He said that Brahmins were angry as they did not get Economically Backward Class (EBC)certificates on time due to which they lost many opportunities which were open during those months. Brahmins needed due respect, which was not given to them, he added.

Bhanwarlal Sharma added: "You leave them (Brahmins) and they shall leave you too. This is what happened in these elections, due to which the party is suffering. There are no senior Brahmin leaders in the organisation who can placate things which are turning from bad to worst."

In contrast, Congress MLA Mahesh Joshi said that Congress was one party which always gave strong identity to the Brahmins.

Joshi was supposed to be fielded from the Jaipur Lok Sabha seat, but being an MLA, he was not keen to contest the parliamentary elections.

When asked if things would have been different had he got the ticket, Joshi said: "It is difficult to just sit and comment on what would have been the party's fate had I been given the ticket. What I know is that Congress gave a Chief Minister like Hardev Joshi to this state, which the BJP could never give."

Meanwhile, appealing to Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Shardakant Sharma said: "You too belong to the Brahmin community with Dattatreya as your gotra, and we Brahmins from Rajasthan appeal to you to allow the Brahmin community to have strong representation in the state."

(Archana Sharma can be contacted at archana.s@ians.in)