LS polls: Rajput leader on indefinite fast over BJP's Rajkot candidate Rupala

Padminiba Vala, who began her fast on Wednesday, claimed Rajput women would even consider self-immolation if Rupala is not replaced

Rajkot BJP candidate Parshottam Rupala (file photo, PTI)
Rajkot BJP candidate Parshottam Rupala (file photo, PTI)


A Rajput leader has launched an indefinite hunger strike in Gujarat to pressure the ruling BJP to remove Union minister Parshottam Rupala as the party's Rajkot Lok Sabha candidate, days after his alleged offensive remarks about the Kshatriya community sparked a row.

Padminiba Vala, who began her indefinite fast on Wednesday at a trust premises owned by the community, claimed that Rajput women would even perform jauhar (self-immolation) if Rupala is not replaced by the BJP.

"I started my hunger strike on Wednesday and today is the second day. I will not consume food until Rupala is removed (as a BJP candidate from Rajkot). The Rajput community will not settle for anything less than that. If he is not removed despite our requests, Rajput women will perform jauhar in large numbers if needed at BJP offices," Vala told reporters in Rajkot.

Meanwhile, speaking to media persons at Ahmedabad airport on Thursday, Rupala said all communities, including Rajputs (Kshatriyas), support him. "All communities, be it Patidars or Rajputs, are in my support. Many Kshatriya leaders have already extended their support to me. I don't want to create a new controversy by taking their names," he said.

Asked if this was becoming a Patidar (a land-owning and peasant community in Gujarat) vs Rajput issue, Rupala said people should refrain from such things. "And I also urge the media to not address the issue in that manner," he said.

On Wednesday, a crucial meeting between the ruling BJP and Rajput community leaders was held to discuss the issue. However, it remained inconclusive as the community leaders said they would not settle for anything less than the removal of Rupala as the BJP candidate for his "offensive" remarks against Kshatriyas.

The community leaders also threatened to field independent candidates and launch a nationwide agitation against the BJP in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls if Rupala is not replaced.

The minister had triggered a row by claiming that erstwhile maharajas succumbed to persecution by foreign rulers and the British, and even married off their daughters to them. The Kshatriya community in Gujarat strongly objected to Rupala's remarks as the majority of the erstwhile royals were Rajputs.

In a relief to Rupala, the office of Gujarat's chief electoral officer (CEO) has declared that his comments did not violate the model code of conduct (MCC).

Though Rupala had apologised immediately after the video of his remarks went viral on 22 March, a complaint was filed with the Gujarat CEO claiming that Rupala had violated the MCC. After conducting an inquiry, Rajkot collector and district election officer Prabhav Joshi on Wednesday submitted his inquiry report to the CEO, said additional CEO Kuldeep Arya.

"The report said there was no violation of the MCC. First, it was not a political gathering where Rupala made those comments. It was a gathering on the occasion of someone's death. Second, Rupala used the word 'maharajas'. He did not say anything about a particular caste. Moreover, he did not say anything which could cause unrest or riots," Arya said.

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