“I am the kingmaker,” Kirori Lal Meena had said sitting in his bungalow cum office during an interview with dna in November. “We are not after the chair but chair is after us,” he had boasted then. But as the results started coming in on Sunday morning, his party could not even mark a respectable presence in the Assembly elections.
Out of 150 candidates it had fielded, the National People’s Party (NPP) could manage to win a mere four seats. Meena’s tall claims that no party would be able to form a government without his help support fell flat within a few hours of the start of vote counting exercise.
Initial trends showed Golma Devi trailing on both Mahuwa and Rajgarh seats, but she managed to steal Rajgarh-Laxmangarh from Surajbhan Dhanka with a little over 8,128 votes; in Mahuwa, BJP’s Omprakash maintained the ‘Bhagua’ wave and decimated NPP with 15,658 votes.
Meena himself was tied in a tough contest. While the Jaipur princess sent him packing from Sawai Madhopur, the tribal maintained his stronghold of Lalsot, albeit by the slimmest margin (491). The only other consolations were Geeta Verma from Sikaria (SC) and BJP rebel from Amber Naveen Pilania, a man who has done extensive work here at the grassroots level.
Was what transpired on Sunday an outcome of the Modi wave or the electorate negating Meena and his casteist brand of politics? Figures tilt in Modi’s favour.
What the statistics also show clearly is that people don’t want caste rhetoric and would choose a clean candidate, even if he/she is an “outsider”. A pulse that dna had detected during its tour of Dausa region. Voters in Lalsot felt suffocation in the atmosphere which was Meena versus Anti-Meena. Missing roads, poor civic facilities were never a part of the election debate. His stint as MP of Dausa was seen just an attempt to consolidate his vote bank politics in the region.
What also went against Meena was the heavy presence of security personnel who ensured that the urban middle class, forced by fear into staying home, came out and voted. For them it was a matter of ensuring Meena is ousted. So Sunday’s outcome is by no means a surprise.
Had Meena focused on developmental politics instead of ‘Meena pride’, NPP may have won more seats. If not, it might have at least have won the seats that it did with a more respectable margin.
Time to introspect!
In fact, the four seats from where NPP has won should not be seen as a win for Kirori’s brand of politics. They should be seen as a sign of electorate’s shrinking tolerance for non-developmental style of governance. Thankfully, Meena now has enough time to introspect whether he wants to continue with the mudslinging or concentrate on developing a development-oriented party policy.