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The Others in Sawai Madhopur will decide Col’s fate

It is the non-Meena and non-Gujjar communities thus — the Rajputs, the Muslims, the Malis, the Khatiks — who will decide who wins from Tonk-Sawai Madhopur seat, reports Srinand Jha.

india Updated: May 06, 2009 00:34 IST
Srinand Jha
Srinand Jha
Hindustan Times

It is seemingly a complete sellout. How could a man who spearheaded the biggest agitation against the Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government in Rajasthan, go and join the party?

The Gujjar agitation for scheduled tribe status led by retired colonel Kirori Lal Bainsla. 70, in two phases — May 2007 and again May-June 2008 — saw over 100 people killed, most of them in police firing. How does Bainsla have the cheek to seek votes from his Gujjar brethren as a BJP candidate from Tonk-Sawai Madhopur?

“Gujjars were killed in police firing not only in Rajasthan, where the BJP then ruled, but also in Haryana, where the Congress was ruling,” Bainsla told Hindustan Times. “Congress leaders never came to express sympathy for those killed. Rajasthan’s BJP government passed a resolution in the assembly accepting our demand for ST status,but Rajasthan Governor

S.K. Singh, appointed by the Centre, has been sitting on it.”

At every election meeting he addressed, Bainsla justified his decision to contest by insisting that he had not abandoned the Gujjars’ goal, but that political clout was essential in achieving it.

“Politics is the master key that opens all locks,” he said. “Our agitation failed because we did not have enough political representation.”

The Gujjars of Sawai-Madhopur — around 1.25 lakh — seemed convinced, and are expected to vote for him on Thursday. Equally likely is that not a single one of the

1.5 lakh Meena votes in this seat will go to Bainsla. They are earmarked for his Congress opponent Namo Narain Meena.

Meenas are the dominant tribe of Rajasthan, so much better off than the others that they have cornered the bulk of the jobs reserved for scheduled tribes in the state. They bitterly opposed the Gujjar agitation, fearing Gujjars would eat into their share of privileges, if their demand for ST status was met.

It is the non-Meena and non-Gujjar communities thus — the Rajputs, the Muslims, the Malis, the Khatiks — who will decide who wins this seat.

Amazingly, despite representing the BJP, Bainsla is said to have won over one section of Muslims too — the Gaddi Muslims — all because the latter too have serious differences with the Meenas.

First Published: May 06, 2009 00:31 IST