The prototype of a Third Front as an alternative to the ruling Congress and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party is taking shape in Rajasthan with Kirorilal Meena, Independent MP from Dausa, announcing the launch of National People’s Party (NPP) in the tribal-dominated Gogunda town of Udaipur district.
Mr. Meena, considered a maverick in the desert State's politics, chose P. A. Sangma’s NPP to lead the nascent Third Front in view of its tribal background in the North-East. Mr. Meena has been active in the tribal belt of Udaipur, Dungarpur and Banswara districts for several months now and raising local issues.
Mr. Meena's fresh political debut at a massive rally in Gogunda on Thursday set at rest speculation about his possible return to the BJP. Though he was a minister in the previous Vasundhara Raje regime, he went all out against the party at the rally and said Ms. Raje and the BJP had betrayed him after his 35-year-long stint.
The Dausa MP slammed both the Congress and the BJP, claiming that Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and BJP State president Ms. Raje had a “secret understanding” to rule the State one by one. “Both of them are culprits of killing innocent people in the State. Ms. Raje ordered firing on Gujjars, Jats and farmers, and Mr. Gehlot ordered firing on the Gopalgarh mosque.”
The selection of place and time for launching NPP in Rajasthan was also not without significance. Thursday marked the day of coronation of legendary Rajput ruler Maharana Pratap and Gogunda was the seat of power that challenged the mighty Mughal rulers in the 16th Century.
The Meena community supremo claimed that he enjoys support of dissidents in the two major parties.
Mr. Meena's wife Golma Devi, a former minister in the Congress-led Government who resigned last year, suspended BJP MLA Hanuman Beniwal and tribal leaders from Chhattisgarh Arvind Netam (suspended from Congress) and Abdul Ghaffar were among those present at the rally.
While affirming that the next Chief Minister of Rajasthan would be neither Mr. Gehlot nor Ms. Raje but a farmer's son under the banner of NPP, Mr. Meena said his party would field candidates in 150 of the 200 constituencies in the State.