Rajasthan Assembly Election Results 2018: Kirodi Lal Meena factor failed to work for the BJP
Kirodi Lal Meena, who rejoined the BJP in March this year after a 10 year hiatus, was expected to swing the Meena votes in BJP’s favour in the Rajasthan assembly election. He was a National People’s Party (NPP) MLA from Lalsot at the time of his return.Updated: Dec 13, 2018 15:11 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s gamble on tribal leader Kirodi Lal Meena to garner tribal votes failed to pay off with the party winning just one of the 13 seats in the Meena-dominated belt in eastern Rajasthan.
Meena, who rejoined the BJP in March this year after a 10 year hiatus, was expected to swing the Meena votes in BJP’s favour. Meena was a National People’s Party (NPP) MLA from Lalsot at the time of his return.
But the results show that Meena’s once unquestioned influence in the region is waning. The BJP drew a blank on 13 seats in Dausa, Karauli and Sawai, Madhopur districts. Congress won 10 of the seats while independents bagged three. The one ST seat in Alwar district was bagged by the Congress. Of the two ST seats in Jaipur district, one was bagged by the Congress and one by an independent.
In 2013, the BJP won six seats while the Congress got three, NPP three and independent one. The Meenas account for around 25% of the population in Dausa, Sawai Madhopur, Karauli, Tonk districts. They are also present in pockets in Jaipur, Alwar, Kota, Bundi and Jhalawar districts and impact around 30 seats.
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Meena left the BJP in 2008 after differences over ticket distribution. He joined the NPP and won four seats – Lalsot from where he contested; Rajgarh-Laxmangrh from where his wife, Golma Devi, contested; Sikrai, won by Geeta Verma; and Amer by Navin Pilania.
Meena, 67, rejoined the BJP along with his wife and MLA Geeta Verma and was made a Rajya Sabha MP. In the run-up to the elections, Meena was given charge of the campaign in the eastern belt and also had a say in ticket distribution on these seats. He addressed 17 public rallies.
He fielded his wife Golma Devi from Sapotra seat and nephew Rajendra Meena from Mahua seat, much to the chagrin of chief minister Vasundhara Raje. Raje wanted to field Om Prakash Hudla who was being groomed by the BJP to counter Meena.
Meena whose dislike for Hudla is well-known was not in favour of Hudla and ensured that his ticket was cut and given to Rajendra Meena. Hudla resigned from the BJP and contested as an independent to win. Golma Devi lost from Sapotra to Ramesh Meena of the Congress while Rajendra lost to Hudla from Mahua.
On the Sawai Madhoupr seat from where Diya Kumari defeated Meena in 2013, Meena opposed a ticket for her and gave the ticket to Asha Meena who lost by over 25,000 votes.
The Congress won both the Sapotra and Todabhim seats in Karauli, Bamanwas seat in Sawai Madhopur district, Lalsot seat from Dausa district and Ramgarh-Laxmangarh seat in Alwar district and the Bassi seat in Jaipur district. The Jamwa Ramgarh seat went to an independent.
Meena who has an MBBS degree had his grounding in the RSS before joining the BJP in 1980. But it seems difficult for Meena to regain his past glory, says political analyst Narayan Bareth.
During the campaign, he did try to raise questions about the leadership struggle within the Congress and took digs at sate Congress president Sachin Pilot over his claims to be a farmer’s son. He also organised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally on the last day of the campaign in Dausa.
“The Meenas were in favour of the Congress this time. They did not support his party-hopping. Moreover, other leaders among the Meena community have come up and are challenging his dominance,” said Bareth. He said the Meenas also started questioning his nepotism .
Congress MLA Ramesh Meena who won from Sapotra says people have seen through Kirori. “He has not done any development in the region and he always changes his seat and contests polls. But he cannot keep fooling the people.”
BJP spokesperson Mukesh Pareek said, “We did not get as much support as we expected. The party will analyse the reasons behind this.”