With less than a week to go for the Assembly elections in Rajasthan, the much-hyped triangular contest in this touristy tiger town, is slowly gaining momentum.
In fact, political pundits in Jaipur could be forgiven for thinking that the two debutants — BJP's Diya Kumari and Congress' Danish Abrar — would barely stand a chance against National People's Party (NPP) leader Kirori Lal Meena, who is contesting from Sawaimadhopur as well as from the Lalsot constituency nearby.
In Sawaimadhopur, Ms. Kumari and Mr. Abrar — are not only giving a tough fight to Dr. Meena, but are confidently staking claim to the seat. Interestingly, Dr. Meena, who is yet to visit this constituency, had lost from this seat in the 2008 Assembly elections.
“But that was different,” says one of his supporters. “Then, Dr. saab was an independent...this time, he has his own party and has been leading a very strong campaign all over the State,” he says.
“Also, last time, he completely ignored the old city, which has about 50,000 voters...he failed to cross that gate,” says another supporter.
About his rivals, Dr. Meena's supporters, while requesting anonymity, admit that there is a lot of “attraction for Ms. Kumari”. However, it is Mr. Abrar of the Congress, they say, who is posing a tougher challenge to the NPP leader.
Mr. Abrar is banking almost exclusively on the “goodwill and personal relations” of his late father and former union minister Abrar Ahmad.
“I don’t believe in depending on votes based on caste and community. Everybody here knows my family, my father, my mother and I am banking on their relations to win this contest,” says Mr. Abrar.
“I will talk to the state and central governments to use the city's proximity to Kota, Jaipur and Delhi and develop an IT special economic zone here to bring about employment and growth,” he says.
Ms. Kumari, member of the erstwhile royal family of Jaipur, feels her traditional connection with the city —her forefather Sawai Madho Singh established the city — and the charisma of Narendra Modi will see her through.
“People here are very angry and fed up with the existing system and see a lot of hope in Narendra Modi ji and Vasundhara Raje ji,” she says.
But what does Ms. Kumari think of her rivals? “I don't,” she says, visibly amused by her own reaction. “I know they are very strong...but I am not here to become MLA. I am here to do social work and I'll continue to work even if I don't win,’’ she says.
Undoubtedly, Ms. Kumari is in a strong position here. Fortunately for her, the Rajputs here have thrown their weight behind her wholeheartedly. “When she was announced the BJP candidate, we had decided to boycott her but seeing how other castes had polarised themselves for their respective candidates, we decided to support her,” says a Rajput voter.
But her eventual success depends largely on the turnout among the “general” voters, which has traditionally been quite low. On the other hand, the Meenas and the Muslims, the expected vote banks of Dr. Meena and Mr. Abrar, are known to vote en masse.