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The Hindu
The Hindu
The Hindu Bureau

RLP supremo Hanuman Beniwal is INDIA bloc candidate from Nagaur following alliance with Congress

The Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) on March 25 announced its supremo Hanuman Beniwal as the INDIA bloc candidate for the Lok Sabha election from Rajasthan’s Nagaur seat following an alliance formed with the Opposition Congress. Mr. Beniwal — elected as an MLA from Nagaur district’s Khinvsar in 2023 — is likely to file his nomination papers on March 27.

The Congress had left the Nagaur seat for the RLP in the list of candidates released on Saturday. The two parties entered into an alliance in the State after intense negotiations lasting several days amid doubts created by the resignation of Mr. Beniwal’s close confidant Ummeda Ram Beniwal from the RLP and his entry into the Congress.

Mr. Ummeda Ram, who lost to Congress MLA Harish Chaudhary by a thin margin of 910 votes in the 2023 Assembly election in Baytu, was considered a prominent face of RLP in the border districts of Barmer and Balotra. The Congress has fielded him as its candidate from the Barmer Lok Sabha seat.

Parted ways with BJP

Several Congress leaders were reluctant to hold any kind of alliance talks with Mr. Beniwal, as he had been critical of the party and its senior leaders after his victory from Nagaur in alliance with the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. He later parted ways with the BJP during the farmers’ agitation over the agriculture sector laws.

Mr. Beniwal, who had resigned as an MP after being elected an MLA, is now pitted against BJP candidate Jyoti Mirdha in Nagaur. Both of them are prominent Jat leaders of the region. Ms. Mirdha — the Nagaur MP during 2009-2014 — is the grand-daughter of veteran Congress leader and former Union Minister, the late Nathuram Mirdha. She had joined the BJP last year ahead of the Assembly election.

A former BJP MLA and a vocal critic of former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, Mr. Beniwal had formed the RLP in 2018 with the support of Jats, who constitute a politically powerful community in more than a dozen Lok Sabha constituencies in Rajasthan. The BJP entered into an alliance with the RLP in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, when Mr. Beniwal was fielded and won from the Nagaur seat.

Interestingly, Mr. Beniwal will be contesting against Ms. Mirdha for the third consecutive time, as he defeated her in the 2019 Lok Sabha election in Nagaur when she was the Congress candidate. In 2014, Mr. Beniwal was an Independent and Ms. Mirdha fought on the Congress ticket. Both of them faced the defeat, as the BJP’s C.R. Chaudhary won the Nagaur seat.

Mr. Beniwal told journalists at the Sanganer airport here after arriving from New Delhi that the RLP had a strong support base in Nagaur and he was confident that the INDIA bloc would defeat the BJP in the Lok Sabha election. “The RLP has decided to join the INDIA bloc to fight on the issues of unemployment and inflation… The Congress took one step and we took another step [to form an alliance] for protecting the democratic system in the country,” Mr. Beniwal said.

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