In a massive show of strength against Parshottam Rupala --- Union minister for Animal Husbandry, Dairying, Fisheries, and BJP Lok Sabha candidate for the 2024 polls from Gujarat --- members of Kshatriya community gathered in large numbers near Rajkot and demanded “unconditional removal” of the BJP candidate.

“I want to tell the high command of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that the Part-1 of our event ends today. We are giving an ultimatum to BJP till April 19 (date of withdrawal of nomination in Gujarat). The ball is now in your court,” said Karansinh Chavda, leader of the coordination committee of Kshatriya organisations in Gujarat while speaking at “Kshatriya Asmita Mahasammelan” held at a ground in front of a Ram temple at Ratanpar near Rajkot. The ground had a large number of women and Rajputs from Rajasthan. Among the guests who attended the meet was Mahipal Singh Makrana, National President of Shri Karni Sena from Jaipur.

Speakers said that if BJP does not change its decision by April 19, the ire of the Kshatriya community will not be limited to Rupala and will extend to BJP across the country. The Union minister is expected to file his nomination from Rajkot on April 16. Speakers requested members of the community not to boycott Lok Sabha polls on May 7 and vote against the BJP if the issue is not resolved.

Truptiba Raol, one of the women leaders who spoke at the event, said there might be a lot of people who might be fans of Prime Narendra Modi like her. “But we are all waiting to know what he (PM Modi) is going to say about this incident,” she added. Jeevan Singh Sherpur, representing Karni Sena in Madhya Pradesh, said that on his way to Gujarat, he was being treated as if he was going to attend an event organised by a “terrorist” organisation.

Rudratsinh Rana from the Jhalawad region in Surendranagar district in Gujarat said, “We have only one demand that the Rupala ticket be cancelled. We will not tolerate any comments against our women.” 

Rupala, a Patidar and Rajya Sabha MP, was nominated in place of the sitting BJP MP Mohan Kundariya from Rajkot seat, which is one of the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat. Rupala found himself facing the ire of the Kshatriya community after he passed comments against the community during an election campaign on March 22. Rupala had said that the members of princely states in India bowed to the British, fraternised with them and even married their daughters to the colonists. Though the Union minister publicly apologised later, various Kshatriya groups across the state have sought his removal as BJP’s Lok Sabha candidate.

On the evening of April 13, Congress announced Paresh Dhanani -- a Patidar and former leader of Opposition in the Gujarat Assembly -- as the candidate to contest against Rupala from the Rajkot seat. The BJP made repeated attempts to placate the community but has insisted that Rupala will not be replaced in Gujarat where Kshyatriyas are not expected to have a decisive impact.