Rajasthan: New leader of Opposition Tika Ram Jully ends 72-year wait
The 43-year-old Jully, a cabinet minister in the preceding Ashok Gehlot government, will once again enjoy cabinet minister status as leader of the Opposition
The Congress has undoubtedly displayed sound strategy by nominating Dalit leader Tika Ram Jully as leader of the Opposition (LO) and continuing with Govind Singh Dotasara as Pradesh Congress president and Sukhwinder Singh Randhawa as the party’s general secretary for Rajasthan.
This is for the first time since 1952 when a Dalit has been nominated as the LO, with the party high command declaring Jully's name 41 days after the first meeting of Congress legislators following the November 2023 Assembly elections. This shows how much thought has gone into the nomination of a Dalit, ahead of the critical Lok Sabha elections.
The 43-year-old Jully, a cabinet minister in the preceding Ashok Gehlot government, will once again enjoy cabinet minister status as leader of the Opposition. The three-time firebrand MLA wields tremendous influence in the Matsya region of Alwar, to which current chief minister Bhajan Lal Sharma also belongs, though he comes from the neighbouring Bharatpur district and the small town of Nadbai. However, he contested the elections from Sanganer in Jaipur district, which has a large number of Bramhin voters.
Simultaneously, the decision by the Congress high command to continue with Dotasara as also Randhawa is significant, and shows the party is by and large happy with their performance.
Jully is known for his parliamentary skills and as a minister in the Gehlot government, would often handle opposition questions deftly, becoming fairly well-known for his repartee.
Originally a resident of a village near Behror, which has recently been named as a district, Jully was educated in Haryana, but began his political career at the panchayat level in Rajasthan.
“Leader of the Opposition is a big responsibility and I have to keep an eye on various public issues and the working of the government. The BJP has a problem, it gets carried away by power whenever it forms a government. It also makes everything about religion, which causes tension in society. We (Congress MLAs) are 70 in number, which is a strong enough figure to keep the government on its toes. We will demonstrate our power as an Opposition from the very first day of the Vidhan Sabha session," he said.
On the issue of the BJP government shelving various welfare programmes launched by the Congress, Jully said, “The first thing that the BJP government did after coming to power was close down our schemes such as the Rajiv Gandhi Yuva Mitra and Mahatma Gandhi Prerak Yojana, or continuing with our Indira Rasoi Yojana by renaming it Annapurna Yojana. The BJP in its election manifesto promised a number of things, but it is yet to start anything. You have already seen the dissension among the youth on the Rajasthan Public Service Commission’s examination dates."
How formidable will the Opposition be? "Look, electoral politics in Rajasthan are almost bipolar, and other parties have a small presence, but we will take them along and work out a strategy to be together with them to fight on the floor of the house any injustice committed by the government, and for the common interest of the people."
As for why the BJP government is taking its time to fulfil its electoral promise of "completing 100 days' task in 30 days", Jully says, "Bhajan Lal Sharma’s ministry is inexperienced and a slow starter, and is guided by the Central leadership on everything — whether it's Cabinet formation or a bureaucratic reshuffle. We will ask the government to present its report card for 30 days, then people will come to know the truth."