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Lok Sabha Elections 2019: BJP’s Diya Kumari banking on Modi wave in Rajsamand seat

But despite her attempts to strike a chord of familiarity, BJP’s Rajsamand candidate Diya Kumari, who was earlier an MLA from Sawai Madhopur, hasn’t been able to shed her reserved nature yet.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 24, 2019 16:19 IST
Urvashi Dev Rawal
Urvashi Dev Rawal
Hindustan Times, Merta / Degana (Nagaur)
lok sabha elections 2019,rajsamand LS seat,bjp rajsamand candidate
BJP candidate Diya Kumari being weighed with jaggery during her campaign in the Rajsamand Lok Sabha seat.(Himanshu Vyas / HT Photo )

BJP’S Rajsamand MP candidate Diya Kumari, with an aura of royalty around her, has added a dash of glamour to a mostly dull election campaign. As she campaigns in villages in and around Merta in Nagaur district, Diya makes it a point to meet women who turn up in colourful lehegas-cholis, some peeping from under their odhnis, to catch a glimpse of her.

At a public meeting in Datani village, a small group of women showers Diya with flower petals and garlands her to welcome her.

Dressed in a pink and green chiffon sari with the pallu covering her head, Diya asks the women to vote in large numbers. “Dhyan rakhna aap log,” she says as she greets them with folded hands.

On connecting with women voters, she says, “In a state like Rajasthan, where women are conservative, they prefer women candidates, so that they can approach her easily. They prefer someone they can get to directly and talk about everything.”

But despite her attempts to strike a chord of familiarity, Diya, who was earlier an MLA from Sawai Madhopur, hasn’t been able to shed her reserved nature yet.

The line of SUVs in her cavalcade with Diya in a Volvo raises not only dust in narrow kuchha roads but also curiosity among villagers who turn out to see the scion of the erstwhile Jaipur royal family.

In her speeches in village chaupals or temples, Diya tries to assure people that she will not neglect her constituency.

“If you elect me and send me to Delhi, I will keep visiting the area. My priority is you and I will not let your self-respect suffer. Just have faith in me once. Do your part on April 29 and I will do the rest of the work for five years,” she says.

She brushes aside the outsider tag, saying, “In an MP election that does not matter. Rahul is fighting from Wayanad (in Kerala). Modi ji went to Varanasi. I am from Rajasthan. I have just shifted from Jaipur to Rajsamand.”

She is visiting 25-30 villages daily. “I am trying to cover every gram panchayat… I’m trying to cover as much area as possible.”

This time sitting BJP MP Hari Om Singh Rathore did not contest because of health reasons. The Rajput-dominated seat fell into Diya’s lap as the caste equation suits her.

Rajsamand has eight assembly segments -- Beawar, Merta, Degana, Jaiitaran, Bhim, Kumbhalgarh, Rajsamand and Nathdwara -- spread over four districts.

In a largely muted election campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to be the only factor.

Ram Narayan Gathiala, who runs a roadside tea stall at Dodiyana village, 20 km from Merta city, says the BJP has the upper hand. “I am a Congress supporter but the popular mood is with Modi,” says Gathiala. “People are not taking the candidates into consideration. Modi is the only face.”

Nand Kishore Dadhich, who owns a small shop next to Gathiala’s stall, agrees. “Modi is the only face. Diya Kumari and Devkinandan Gurjar, the Congress candidate, are not known.”

Diya Kumari too invokes Modi in all her election speeches, saying the Prime Minister has served the country like a soldier and a chowkidar.

At Dabraryani Kalan village, a group of women says they will vote for Modi. “We don’t know who Diya Kumari is but Modi ji’s government has done good work in the last five years,” says Lakshmi Chaudhy as she rushes off to catch a glimpse of Diya.

“There is no one in the opposition who can compare to Modi. The opposition got together to defeat him but that gave him more strength,” says Diya.

She says there is nothing wrong with fighting election on the nationalism plank and invoking national pride. “We are not getting votes because of the air strikes. People will vote only if they feel it was a good decision and this leader showed guts and took strong decisions.”

In the Merta area, BJP’s tie-up with the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) has helped the party. At Diya’s rallies, the posters have photos of Modi, RLP president Hanuman Beniwal, Diya and RLP MLA from Merta City, Indira Devi Bawri.

Diya says RLP and BJP workers are working in coordination. On this leg of her campaign where she’s touring the villages in Nagaur district which fall in the Rajsamand Lok Sabha constituency, Indira Devi is travelling with her.

Also Read | Lok Sabha 2019 constituency: Rajsamand has seen BJP and Congress rule after delimitation

In Merta Road, where Diya addresses a public meeting, Suraj Kala Chaudhary, a staff nurse at a government health centre, says Beniwal will help the BJP get Jat votes.

At Dabaryani Kalan village, people say the Beniwal factor will help the BJP. “Jats and Rajputs, traditionally seen as political rivals, will vote together for the BJP and RLD,” says Sitaram Dabaryani, a Jat.

Asked about her opponent, the 73-year-old Devkinandan Gurjar, Diya says she’s focusing on her campaign that’s woven around development work of the central and state governments.

When Diya was given the ticket, there were reports of Arvind Singh of the Mewar royal family opposing her candidature.

Diya refutes any bad blood between the two families. “This is all concocted. We are very close. In fact after I got the ticket, I went to meet him and take his blessings and he is supporting me.”

Regarding issues in her constituency, she says there is need for better rail connectivity and completion of the national highway between Beawar and Gomti. Water scarcity is also an issue. People want an army recruitment centre in the constituency.

Besides, there is potential to develop tourism in the Rajsamand, Nathdwara and Kumbhalgarh region and addressing issues of the mining industry, she says.

Diya, who recently divorced her husband after 21 years of marriage, has three children. While her two older sons are studying abroad in college, her daughter studies in Jaipur. Diya says her children don’t need her much now and she will be able to divide her time between Delhi and Rajasthan.

First Published: Apr 24, 2019 16:19 IST

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