The moment Siddhi Kumari’s open jeep roars into Udairamsar, locals looking out for her arrival start showering flower petals on her, men offer garlands and all of a sudden things take on a festive colour.
The 40-year-old member of the erstwhile royal family of Bikaner and the BJP MLA from Bikaner (East) is dressed in a white cotton salwar suit teamed with a pink and orange chiffon dupatta. As she descends from the vehicle and greets the crowd with a khamma ganni (traditional greeting), it makes quite the perfect poll picture.
She is accompanied by an entourage of women — friends from her school days in Bikaner — who have come from different parts of the country to help her campaign. Her mother, Padma Kumari, is also lending a helping hand.
“Despite being in opposition, I have ensured the development of the area. But a lot still needs to be done,” says Siddhi Kumari, who has been pitted against Gopal Lal Gahlot, 49, of the Congress, who left the BJP after being denied the ticket.
Udairamsar village has more than 6,000 voters; Siddhi Kumari’s convoy halts at every village ‘chowk’, and she ends up spending three hours in the place.
Sharda Devi, a home-maker, is all praise for her.
“She has tried her best and like her ancestors taken good care of us.”
But not everybody in the BJP agrees with this version of things. About six months ago, the elected district working committee of the BJP complained to the state party chief, Vasundhara Raje, that since her election in 2008, Siddhi had remained absent from Bikaner most of the time and demanded that she be denied the ticket this year.
Raje, however, ignored all complaints, dismissed the committee and went ahead and fielded her protégé from Bikaner (East) again.
Siddhi Kumari, however, shrugs aside these allegations.
“I have always been here and among you people. I never sat idle.”