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Outsider but still at home

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Sunny Sebastian

PARTY: Independent

CONSTITUENCY: Dausa (ST)

STATE: Rajasthan

MISSION STATEMENT: To end what he sees as Meena hegemony

The violent Gujjar agitation in Rajasthan demanding Scheduled Tribe status for the community may have failed to yield anything tangible for the community, but it certainly has brought about a pan-Gujjar sensibility.

Qummer Rubbani Checchi, the Independent candidate for the newly reserved Dausa (ST) constituency, is the product of the newfound bonhomie between the Gujjars of Rajasthan and those of Jammu and Kashmir, who already have ST status.

Mr. Checchi, who hails from Fatehpur village in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir, traces his ancestry to Bandikui, one of the Assembly segments falling in the Dausa Lok Sabha seat.

He derives support from the intense anti-Meena feeling in the area, partly triggered by the reservation of the seat, now represented by Congress’ Sachin Pilot.

“It is not the Gujjars alone. I am here as a candidate on a request from all the communities other than the Meenas,” said Mr. Checchi. “One community alone cannot ensure the victory of any candidate. That is why I did not contest from Sawai Madhopur [then an ST seat] in the previous Lok Sabha election even though some of my friends had announced my candidature from there,” said Mr. Checchi, who fought the Jammu Lok Sabha seat in 1999.

The fact that the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party have lost their credibility in the eastern districts might be the major advantage of this Muslim Gujjar newcomer.

Caste factor

The results of the recent Assembly elections show that the caste factor has penetrated deeper into the voter psyche here, with people seeking representation of sub-castes and even at the “gotra” level.

In the Dausa Lok Sabha seat, with an electorate of 13,149,17, there about 2.85 lakh Meena voters, 1.35 lakh Gujjar voters, 1 lakh Mali voters, besides 3 lakh voters of the Scheduled Castes and 2.65 lakh Brahmin voters. The Muslim electorate in the constituency numbers less than a lakh.

In Bassi, one of the Assembly segments in Dausa Lok Sabha seat, non-Meena communities supported a newcomer, a woman belonging to the minuscule Dhanka community in the recent polls to end Meena “hegemony.”

“The Assembly election results were a trailer. The main show is coming,” says Mr. Checchi, who is surrounded by Brahmins and Malis besides Gujjars in his rented accommodation in Dausa town.

“I was here during the Assembly elections also. The relevance of all the major political parties here is over,” he asserts.

“The national parties would not dare to give tickets to anyone other than a Meena. The rest of the voters are not willing to accept a Meena,” he points out.

Mr. Checchi is correct in his assessment of the predicament of the Congress Party and the BJP who cannot ever think of nominating a candidate other than a Meena, as their votes matter in more than half a dozen Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan.


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