Passing through the dusty lanes into the interiors of Tonk district, a cavalcade of at least ten SUVs heads towards a village in the district, as the area reverberates with slogans of ‘Azharuddin zindabad, Congress Party zindabad.’
Congress candidate Mohammad Azharuddin talks to a villager at Piloda village in Sawai Madhopur. (Himanshu Vyas/HT Photo)
A school in the Piloda village in Gangapur area gets ready to welcome Team India former captain and Congress candidate from Tonk Sawai Madhopur constituency Mohammad Azaruddin.
Unlike other small towns where a huge mob turns out to greet a celebrity of Azhar’s stature, there are only 200 people gathered here to greet him.
However, there is a group of boys, most of them in their teens, running along with the cavalcade of Azharuddin. They seem more excited to see the caravan of posh SUVs arriving in their village than the candidate sitting inside the vehicle.
The elders, however, rush to greet Azharuddin.
Clad in white kurta-pyjama, sports shoes and blue cap, he walks towards the verandah area of the school along with the supporters where he is offered a cup of tea followed by garlanding session.
A villager ties a turban on former Team India skipper. Azhar smiles but the weight of the headgear and the heat shows on his face, as he goes on adjusting it constantly.
Standing beside Azharuddin, former Congress MLA Ramkesh Meena, introduces him to the people present there.
“Meet the former captain of team India,” he says amidst a thunderous applause. After all the tired clichés like: “This man will bring development in your area; he is here to solve all our problems etc…,” Meena tells Azhar “People want you to come whenever they organise a match here.”
“The Meenas and the Muslims of this village as well as other villages in Tonk have decided to support you,” says the Meena, and then goes on to say, “Par aap log high profile log ho ….jeet jaoge to aana chor mat dena.” (You are a high profile person, so don’t forget us after you win.)
Azhar, who is not very articulate, says: “I am not a high profile person, which is why the party has fielded me from a low profile constituency.”
The MLA immediately corrects him. “This is not a low profile seat; people like Namo Narain Meena and Kirori Lal have been in fray from here.”
"BJP government in the state has done nothing in the past three months. I have met villagers in recent days and they told me they are suffering due to hailstorm and the state government has done nothing for the affected farmers," he said.
He thereafter leaves from the school to reach out to the other villagers.
Piloda village in Gangapur area is a testimony to the mockery of schemes meant for the development of villages.
The villages lacks proper road and traversing through it was a tough task for the man who himself is a great athlete.
When HT asked him that your party was in the power in the area and state for past 5 years still look at the condition of the roads, he says, "This will soon be repaired."
When a person in the local language asked him not to forget the villagers after getting elected, Azharuddin said “Hindi mein bolo”. The local connect was definitely missing.
Villager Madan Mohan Meeena said, "Piloda village has always been voting for Congress and this time too it would vote for Congress."
Another villager Bajrang Lal Gupta said, “Namo Narain Meena had done lot of works in this constituency and people would vote for Congress.”
Local man Dara Singh, said, “This is a Meena dominated village so they will vote for Congress , but BJP will win in this parliamentary constituency, as general class will vote for BJP.”
Ramesh, a villager said that “If Azharuddin after being elected does not hit fours and sixes in this constituency, then he will not be elected in the next election, as actor and former MP Dharmendra was thrown out of Bikaner constituency”.