Jaipur- With the election results announced on Sunday, there have been speculations about the next chief minister in the state as the party had not declared its Chief Ministerial candidate for the state before the elections. Among the many names doing the rounds, one name is Arjun Ram Meghwal, currently serving as the Union Minister of Law and Justice. Meghwal is a former IAS officer who entered politics in 2009 after winning from the Bikaner Constituency on a BJP ticket. In 2014, he repeated his victory by winning from Bikaner by a margin of an impressive 3 lakh votes. In 2019, he defeated his cousin Gopal Madan Meghwal by a margin of more than 3 lakh votes, securing 6.5 lakh votes.
The Dalits form around 17.18% of the population in the state and play a crucial role in elections. On Sunday evening, when the name of Meghwal started doing the rounds, some social media users suggested that if appointed Chief Minister, Meghwal would be the first Dalit to become Chief Minister. However, it is a lesser-known fact that the state saw its first Dalit Chief Minister way back in 1980 when Jagannath Pahadia was appointed the 9th Chief Minister of Rajasthan. Pahadia later served as the Governor of Bihar and Haryana. Pahadia was an exceptional social reformer from an early age and tirelessly worked towards the upliftment of Dalits and Women’s welfare. After his political journey, he even took to journalism in his later years. He died in May 2021 owing to COVID-related complications.
The state of Rajasthan is known for widespread caste atrocity and untouchability. Recently, a documentary produced by Singapore broadcaster CNA, which also featured The Mooknayak founder Meena Kotwal documented the atrocities on Dalits in Rajasthan. It mentioned the case of Jeetendra Meghwal, a Dalit youth from Pali district who was murdered for sporting a mustache and also the case of Inder Meghwal, who was beaten to death for drinking water from a pitcher meant for the upper-caste teacher. Recently, an elderly Dalit was forced to place his shoes on his head and demand an apology. Even Bollywood films like Ghulami (1985) have highlighted the rampant untouchability and feudalism practiced against the Dalits in the state.
In such a scenario, the BJP will find making a Dalit a Chief Minister of the state an uphill task given the level of feudalism rippling across the state. As of 2023, there is no Dalit Chief Minister in any state of India. Charanjit Singh Channi was the last Dalit Chief Minister as he was appointed the CM of Punjab in 2021.