Dausa MP Kirodilal Meena believes the coming Assembly polls will,for the first time,see the emergence of a formidable third front in Rajasthan. Meena,who was earlier with the BJP,joined P A Sangmas National Peoples Party (NPP) in March this year. A doctor by qualification,Meena now hopes to emerge as a kingmaker. Excerpts from his interview with Sweta Dutta
What is the possibility of a third front in a bipolar state like Rajasthan?
Since Rajasthan is a bipolar state,the two prominent leaders Ashok Gehlot and Vasundhara Raje think there is no alternative to them,and people in the state have been taken for a ride. Raje issued a black paper against Gehlot alleging scams. Similarly,Gehlot made several allegations against Raje before the last assembly polls. But neither made any attempts to get the cases investigated. There is a case lodged against Raje for taking home carpets belonging to a government-run hotel,but no action has been taken against her. Both the parties promised reservation to several communities,but neither kept their word. The two parties are hand-in-glove and fooling the people. Hence,there is an urgent need for a third front that can bring in some semblance of honesty in the system and deliver good governance. We (NPP) have been approached by the Janata Dal (United) and have been in talks with Sharad Yadav,Fateh Singh and K C Tyagi for a possible alliance in Rajasthan. I have also spoken to Amra Ram of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). If there is a possibility of tying up with the newly-formed third front,Rajasthan Loktantrik Morcha,we will be most happy to join them.
What are the main issues confronting the state?
In my rallies over the last few months,I have covered 180 of the total 200 constituencies. People are tired of corruption and the state government has not been able to live up to the expectations of the common man. Reservations promised to a few communities are yet to be implemented. There have been several instances of communal violence. Law and order continues to be a matter of grave concern. There has been no significant employment generation and no industrial development. There has been a wishy-washy government. Farmers continue to stay backward and women are still unsafe. Politics has become a business,and is no longer seen as a way to serve people.
What does your party have to offer?
In our manifesto we are promising sufficient power supply and irrigation facilities for farmers,employment generation,infrastructure development and industrial progress like in Gujarat. We will assure good governance,better law and order,and curbs on corruption. In both the BJP and Congress governments,the backward communities had to die of hunger. We will ensure proper health and food security in the state.
How many seats will the NPP contest?
We will field candidates in 150 constituencies. We have already announced our candidates in 10 constituencies. We are confident of winning at least 40 seats. We have a significant presence in southern Rajasthan Udaipur,Dungarpur,Pratapgarh,Banswara,areas that are tribal-dominated. We also have support in eastern Rajasthan Hadoti,Mewat,Dhundhar and parts of the Shekhawati belt.
What do you think of the schemes launched by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot?
Gehlots schemes are very good,but considering the timing of their announcement and implementation right before the polls,people are not convinced that they were brought in for welfare. Everyone believes that these are election sops. People are suspicious of Gehlot and the intention behind these schemes. Their implementation is also not very effective. He should have brought in all these schemes much earlier in his tenure,and not right before the elections.
If the BJP or Congress needs your support to form the government,who will you support? Who do you think will make a better Chief Minister,Ashok Gehlot or Vasundhara Raje?
We will not support either of them. We would rather sit in the Opposition than join hands with either of the parties. The state needs a new face and is fed up of both Gehlot and Raje. Just like Madhu Koda came up in Jharkhand,Rajasthan too needs a new face.
Looking back at the 2008 Gurjjar agitation,what do you think should have been done? Are you working towards bringing the Gurjjars and Meenas together again?
Gurjjars and Meenas had harmonious relations and there was a strong feeling of brotherhood,but political parties in the state have divided the two communities for their own benefit. In the last few months,I have tried to bridge this gap but it will take more time. Raje played the divide and rule policy for her political gains. It was dirty politics. The state government did not tell the community that it would not be possible to give them reservation under the scheduled caste category and instead misled them. If there were dialogues with the community while they were agitating,there would not have been so much bloodshed. When I stood up against this,I was asked to leave the party. I wish to see the two communities,together like Ram and Lakshman,once again.