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Rajasthan assembly polls: Glamour,legacy and community face off in three-way contest

BJP candidate Diya Kumari has been grabbing the most attention so far.

Written by Sweta Dutta | Sawai Madhopur |
November 22, 2013 12:29:58 am

The tiger town of Sawai Madhopur in eastern Rajasthan has caught the fancy of the state with a high glamour quotient and a keen battle in its poll. Jaipur royal Diya Kumari takes on Meena heavyweight Kirori Lal Meena while young Danish Abrar,son of former union minister Abrar Ahmed,makes it a stiff triangular contest in a seat where caste equations can be tricky.

It is Diya of the BJP who has been grabbing the most attention so far with her chiffon sarees and by breaking bajre ki roti with and sipping chhaach offered by villagers,and by ploughing fields. The local media has already declared her the one inching forward,but this prediction does not take into account the caste factor.

Of the constituency’s 2.10 lakh voters,an estimated 45,000 belong to the Meena community and their votes are believed to be beyond the reach of Diya or Danish. The remainder includes 35,000 Muslims,25,000 Malis,22,000 Brahman Baniyas,10,000 Rajputs,3,000 Yadavs,25,000 Gurjjars and 20,000 scheduled caste members.

Danish of the Congress will be eyeing most of the Muslim votes and a decent share of the those of the Malis — a community that is traditionally pro-Congress,with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot a Mali. Ever since a Muslim police officer was set on fire in Surwal,however,the agitating Mali community as well as the minorities have been upset with Gehlot. To add to this,sitting legislator Alauddin Azad was denied a ticket,further upsetting his followers,mostly Gaddi Muslims.

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For Diya,the target would be the votes of general-category Brahman Baniyas and Rajputs besides the disgruntled sections of the minorities and the Malis,as well as those of the SCs who have long been dominated by the muscle-flexing Meenas.

On Monday,Gehlot held a rally in support of Danish drawing an audience of only 3,000. “There have been deaths in three families. I could not have asked those villagers to come for an election rally,” explains Danish.

“The BJP is contesting on money power and Kiroriji on muscle power but I am standing for the polls only on the basis of relationships cultivated by my family. I have a name to live up to and when one has to do that it is imperative to be honest,” he adds,with his mother,former legislator Yasmeen Abrar,next to him.

His father was working president of the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee when he died the day before the 2004 parliamentary polls.

Danish’s promise is an IT special economic zone in the town’s vicinity while Diya has been offering to boost agriculture,dairy farming and tourism in the town that can easily count as one of the state’s most backward.

“It makes me angry to see how the previous legislators have left this place in a shambles” she tells The Indian Express. “There is a lot that can be done in terms of developing tourism while agriculture and dairy farming,which form the main occupation of the locals,can be given a great boost.”

Diya has a legacy entwined with that of the town,which was founded by and named after her great grandfather Sawai Madho Singh in 1763.

Tribal strongman Kirori Lal Meena is missed by the constituency as more pressing issues of his newly launched National People’s Party keep him away. After the filing of nominations,Meena is yet to make an appearance in his two constituencies – Lalsot is the other one. Meena,a veteran in this region,is confident of a sweep with rallies lined up for the last week before polling.

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