Pilot caught in a Gurjjar whirlwind

The Gurjjars and Sachin Pilot can perhaps empathise with one another these Lok Sabha polls. Post-delimitation,both have been forced to rethink their poll strategies.....

Written by Apurva | Jaipur | Published: March 26, 2009 11:57 pm

The Gurjjars and Sachin Pilot can perhaps empathise with one another these Lok Sabha polls. Post-delimitation,both have been forced to rethink their poll strategies,with the community having to look for a candidate from Jammu and Kashmir for Dausa and Pilot for a seat away from the family pocketborough.

In an ironical twist for the Gurjjars,who launched violent agitations demanding ST status,the epicentre of their protests,Dausa in eastern Rajasthan,has now become a reserved ST seat. Pilot will now stand from Ajmer,while the new Dausa is electorally dominated by the Meenas,the arch-rivals of Gurjjars.

With Gurjjars solidly behind them,the Pilots have been winning from Dausa since long. However,after delimitation,a large chunk of the Gurjjar voters are no longer a part of the constituency,particularly in the Jambva Ramgadh,Kotputli and Viratnagar Assembly constituencies. Instead,it now has three new ST-dominated Assembly constituencies of Bassi,Chaksu and Mahua.

With the powerful Meenas firmly in charge of Dausa,the Congress,BJP and the BSP are all set to field candidates from the community. While the BSP has picked sitting MLA Murari Lal Meena,Congress heavyweight and Minister of State for Forests and Environment Namo Narain Meena has requested a ticket from Dausa. Former BJP minister Kirori Lal Meena,who has lent support to the Ashok Gehlot Government,is also hopeful of a ticket from Dausa,putting the Congress in a quandary.

Incidentally,Namo Narain Meena’s request stems from delimitation,as his traditional Sawai Madhopur constituency is now a general seat.

Community leaders discount the possibility of the Meena vote getting split three ways and all other communities voting against them,and insist that they will as a whole back the strongest of the three contenders.

Meanwhile,the Gurjjar community — which has had no love lost with the Meenas since the agitation for quota — is contemplating fielding Qammar Rabbani Chechi,a Muslim Gurjjar from Jammu and Kashmir,where the community enjoys ST status.

His eye on the 11 per cent Gurjjar vote in Dausa,Col Kirori Singh Bainsla says: “Rabbani will work for the benefit of the community.” Senior Gurjjar leaders complain the BJP and Congress only seem to support the Meenas.

Displaced from Dausa,Pilot may not find the going as easy in Ajmer,which is a traditional BJP stronghold. The Congress has won just once from here since 1989,when Prabha Thakur,the All-India Mahila Congress chief,won. In contrast,the Pilots have won from Dausa eight times. “Six times Rajesh,and once each his wife Rama and son Sachin,” says PCC president C P Joshi.

Otherwise too,Ajmer and Dausa are electorally poles apart. While Dausa primarily remains a Gurjjar versus Meena battle,Ajmer has a sizeable Sindhi population,closely followed by the Gurjjars,minorities,Sikhs and Brahmins. However,working in Pilot’s favour will be the constituency’s high literacy rate,74 per cent,one of the highest in the state.

A hopeful Pilot says: “The party has a lot of expectations from me and has shown immense faith. I cannot let them down. I am planning strategies and should begin touring Ajmer soon.”

After all,he realises what’s at stake: if Dausa win was largely credited to his surname,a victory in Ajmer will fix Pilot’s name as one of the Congress’s young and dynamic leaders.

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