Princess takes on Meena leader in Sawai Madhopur

Sawai Madhopur: The battle between a princess fighting her maiden election and an influential Meena caste leader here has propelled this backward constituency into limelight with BJP's CM candidate Vasundhara Raje pulling out all stops to humble friend-turned-foe Kirodi Lal Meena.

Raje persuaded Diya Kumari, a scion of Jaipur palace whose royals are credited for building Sawai Madhopur, to join the party weeks ahead of the elections to take on the Meena leader in his backyard.

Once a key minister in Raje's cabinet, he was expelled from BJP before the 2003 Assembly polls and played a key role in the party's defeat then and subsequent Lok Sabha elections by rallying the Meena community against it.

Meenas are said to be close to 10 per cent of the state's population and politically most influential after Jat.

Traversing the length and breadth of the predominantly rural seat day after day, Kumari is making it a point to connect with people, eating food with them, talking extensively to the voters, especially women, and asking them to rise above caste and religion to vote for their daughter.

The constituency's profile does not really suit the Rajput princess with neither Meenas nor Muslims, two most numerous communities which together account for over 45 per cent of total voters, being seen as BJP's natural voters. The party had come third in the last election.

But she believes different communities will come around her to defeat Meena's "self-promotional and divisive" caste politics.

"Do you think I would be doing all this hard work just to be an MLA if I was not interested in people's welfare," she told PTI when asked to comment on the criticism that she was brought from Jaipur palace solely to help BJP politically.

First Published: Wednesday, November 27, 2013, 14:00

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