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Dausa-Sawai Madhopur: Hotbed of caste politics
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Dausa/Sawai Madhopur, April 22
With tribal leader Kirori Lal Meena contesting as an Independent from Dausa and Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla in the poll fray as Congress candidate from Tonk-Sawai Madhopur, the two neighbouring Lok Sabha seats are turning out to be hotbed of caste politics in Rajasthan.

The candidature of Meena strongman from Dausa and Gujjar stalwart from Sawai Madhopur is sure to trigger polarisation in the two constituencies, the signs of which are becoming clear with each passing day. The situation can be gauged from the fact that burying the hatchet with his rival Union minister Namo Narayan Meena, Kirori Lal has extended his support to him just to ensure the defeat of Bainsla. Dubbing Bainsla as a bigger threat, Kirori Lal held him responsible for disturbing the communal harmony between Meenas and Gujjars in the state. He said he was supporting Namo Narayan in the larger interest of the community.

On the other hand, the non-Meenas have started rallying around Bainsla in Tonk-Sawai Madhopur, as the Congress decision to field Namo Narayan hasn’t gone down well with them. They felt that the ruling party should have allotted ticket to someone else as the seat had got de-reserved in delimitation. For instance, the Pathans, who form sizable population in 18 villages on Sawai Madhopur-Lalsot road and have been voting for the Congress since 1952, have now decided to support the BJP. The Muslims, too, are irked with the Congress, as they wanted their own candidate from the seat as Tonk, a seat of Nawabs, had become a part of the constituency post-delimitation.

The scenario is no different in neighbouring Dausa seat where eyeing a strong 3.25-lakh Meena vote the Congress and the BJP have fielded Meena candidates. However, Kirori Lal Meena is all set to play a spoilsport for both parties. In such a scenario it won’t be surprising if a non-Meena candidate bags the seat that has been a Gujjar stronghold for almost three decades now. Rajesh Pilot of the Congress, a Gujjar, had won the seat five times between 1984 and 1999 while his son retained it in the last elections.

Interestingly, Qamar Rabbani Chechi, a Gujjar from Jammu & Kashmir, who is contesting as an Independent from Dausa, is also in the race thanks to caste politics. “Meenas get everything right from scholarships to schools, colleges and jobs. However, our youth is still into farming and livestock. Come what may I will never vote for a Meena,” avers Devendra Singh Gujjar, a resident of Dausa that also has 1.35 lakh Gujjar votes.

Meanwhile, in another development, the Akhil Bharatiya Gujjar Mahasabha has accused the BJP of attempting to trigger a fresh clash between the Gujjars and the Meenas. It has also decided to support Sayar Dhabai of the Rajasthan Dev Sena Dal from Tonk-Sawai Madhopur rather than a Meena or a Gujjar.

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