An ‘outsider’ out to upset poll outcomeMay 1st, 2009 | By Elections2009 | Category: Rajasthan
DAUSA: Riding on the support of local Gujjars agitating for Scheduled Tribe status, a Kashmiri Muslim Gujjar has thrown his hat into the political ring in this sensitive Lok Sabha constituency of Rajasthan with the hope of upsetting the apple carts of veteran Meena leader Kirorilal Meena and the candidates fielded by the Congress and the BJP.
No other constituency in the desert State has generated the interest of poll pundits post-delimitation as Dausa with the seat being reserved for STs. The coveted seat might witness an extraordinary spectacle of disappearance of the Congress, which has won ten times here over the years and sent a stalwart like Rajesh Pilot to Parliament. His son, Sachin Pilot, has shifted to Ajmer. The entry of Qamar Rabbani Chechi – a real estate agent from Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir – into the fray as an Independent has disturbed the electoral calculations of all prominent contestants. As a Gujjar belonging to the Kashmir Valley, he enjoys ST status and has been brought in here to confront the dominant Meena community in the murky caste-based electoral fight.
“Mr. Chechi extended moral, material and financial support to us during our agitation that left 70 persons of our community dead in police firing. It is on our special request that he has agreed to contest the Lok Sabha polls on our behalf,” said Chainsukh Gujjar looking after the canvassing work along with Mr. Chechi’s son, Shahzad Rabbani, at his election office in the town.
Mr. Chechi, campaigning in Lalsot – 40 km from Dausa – indicated while talking to The Hindu that he was trying to reach out to the communities other that Gujjars, such as Brahmins, Malis, Vaishyas, Dalits and Muslims, by promising to work for getting reservation to all economically backward sections. He said he was avoiding any reference to castes in his campaign.
“My target is 2010 when the reservation policy is to be reviewed and its beneficiaries reconsidered at the national level. Gujjars must join hands with other underprivileged sections to get their due,” said the 55-year-old Kashmiri leader. He claimed that he was getting “unprecedented support” from all castes.
Among the 13.15-lakh electorate in Dausa, there are about 2.85 lakh Meena voters and 1.35 lakh Gujjar voters who have had a stronghold over the seat for almost three decades. Gujjars now expect that the Meena votes would be split and the anti-Meena votes as well as those of all other non-Meena castes would benefit Mr. Chechi and help him emerge as the winner.
Political observers here believe that the major chunk of the Meena votes would go to former State Minister and Todabhim MLA Kirorilal Meena, who is in the fray as an Independent even after extending support to the Congress-led Government in the State. Having been rebuffed by the Congress, he is aspiring to move beyond State politics.
Devnarain Jaiman, a supporter of Dr. Meena, claimed at his election office that the Meena leader was acceptable to all communities and pointed out that the election for the seat, far from being fought on the political lines, was an “entirely personality-based show”.
“Among all the candidates, Dr. Meena has the tallest stature. He instantly feels the pulse of people,” he said, pointing towards the crowd waiting for the Meena leader’s return from the hustings in villages.
Former IPS officer Laxman Meena, the Congress candidate, is evidently a novice in politics. Yet he has been trying to challenge Dr. Meena’s dominance in the community. “Each polling station will have ten Congress workers. We will ensure that unlike the past, no polling booth is captured by Dr. Meena’s supporters,” he said at a meeting of community elders
Ramkishore Meena of the BJP has nothing to lose in the elections with the people in the community questioning the wisdom of fielding him as a candidate.