PM Modi to mark Gujjar deity Devnarayan’s birth anniversary in Rajasthan today

Jaipur: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Malaseri village in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district on Saturday to attend an event to commemorate the 1,111th birth anniversary of local deity Devnarayan, who is revered by the Gujjar community across the country, people familiar with the matter said.

Besides the Prime Minister, Rajasthan governor Kalraj Mishra has also been invited for the event, which is being organised by theUnion culture ministry, said aBharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader.

BJP national general secretary and Rajasthan in-charge Arun Singh said preparations are in full swing to welcome Modi, who will offer prayers at the famous Devnarayan Doongri temple at Malaseri in Asind sub-division of Bhilwara and also address the gathering.

“The religious visit of the Prime Minister on the 1111th programme of Lord Devnarayan will be grand, divine and historic,” said Singh.

This will be Prime Minister Modi’s third visit to Rajasthan in last four months and the trip is deemed significant for the state, which will go to the assembly elections later this year. In November 2022, Modi visited Mangadh Dham in Banswara district to pay tribute to tribal leader Govind Guru. In October, he visited Sirohi district for a public meeting.

Devnarayan is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and was born in Malaseri in the 10th century.

While the party has maintained it is a “religious” visit by the PM, the BJP is eyeing political mileage from Modi’s presence at the event, local leaders said. It is expected that the PM could announce the setting up of a Devnarayan corridor in Asind sub-division on the lines of Kashi, Ayodhya and Ujjain. Research and survey teams from the Centre have already visited the region and are studying historical evidences, literature, and religious documents connected to Devnarayan.

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Besides Rajasthan, there is a considerable presence of Gujjars in Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

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“MLAs and MPs from the region have been working to make the visit a success. BJP workers are going door-to-door in several districts to invite Gujjars and other communities for the PM’s meeting,” said the BJP state incharge. “People from all communities will attend the programme to offer prayers to Lord Devnarayan and to listen to the prime minister. There is a lot of enthusiasm among the people.”

PM Modi is likely to arrive at Malaseri village at 11.30am on Saturday and spend around 90 minutes at the venue, an official familiar with the matter said, adding that nearly 250,000 people are expected to attend the event.

Gujjars, who have significant presence in 15 districts of eastern Rajasthan, hold sway on at least 40 of the 200 assembly seats in the state. In the 2018 assembly elections, the BJP fielded nine Gujjars, who all lost. It was perceived that the community voted almost en masse for the Congress as all eight Gujjar candidates fielded by the Congress won. The support to the Congress was seen mainly in the hope that Sachin Pilot, a Gujjar, would become chief minister.

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However, the power tussle between chief minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Pilot has not gone down well with the Gujjars. The BJP is hoping to cash in on the resentment within the community against the Congress.

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Congress spokesperson Swarnim Chaturvedi said Modi’s visit is a political one, eyeing social engineering. “None of the BJP’s MLA candidates from the Gurjar community won. And now looking at the welfare work done by the Congress government in Rajasthan for all communities, especially Gujjars, such as giving MBC reservation, the BJP is afraid and aware that the current government will return to power.”

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