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Congress chants a different 'Namo' mantra in Dausa

March 25, 2014 15:45 IST

It’s going to be the battle of half brothers in Rajasthan’s Dausa, where a different ‘Namo’ would take on the candidate from NaMo’s party. P B Chandra reports.

Union minister of state for finance Namo Narain Meena, a former IPS officer of 1969 batch, is pitted against his own brother Harish Chandra Meena, a former director general of police who was secretary (security) in the Prime Minister’s Office. The two half brothers would contest from the Dausa Lok Sabha seat in eastern Rajasthan, which is reserved for the Scheduled Tribe.

Interestingly, the younger Harish was removed by the BJP government as the DGP after the party came into power in December last year (under the leadership of Vasundhara Raje) as he was considered a Congress loyalist. Harish, who for almost four years reigned the khaki force in the state and was considered a favourite of then Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, surprised all by changing loyalties and quit his job in the PMO to join the saffron party.

The deal was brokered by Bhawani Singh Meena, the real brother of Harish, who is a former IAS officer of Maharashtra cadre and is very close to Raje. Harish proved to be a turncoat after enjoying the patronage of the Congress who promoted him as the DGP overlooking the claims of several senior officers.

“Playing caste politics, Gehlot promoted Harish Meena as the DGP when he was the CM. Look at the man, who was promoted by the Congress and was made a senior official in the PMO in Delhi after he was removed as DGP by the BJP government, has now joined the BJP and is contesting against his own brother who helped him in many ways,” says Prakash Berwa, a former Congress MLA.

Harish opted to join the BJP on the promise that he would be given the party’s nomination from Dausa. Harish was sure that his step brother would either contest from his old constituency of Tonk-Sawai Madhopur from where he won by a slender margin of 300 votes in 2009 general elections defeating the Gujjar leader Col Kirori Singh Bainsala, or he would not contest at all.

Namo Narain opted out from Tonk-Sawai Madhopur constituency as he thought he would not win from the seat. The Congress then nominated former Team Indian skipper Mohammed Azharuddin to contest this seat as the future looked bleak for the cricketer-turned-politician from Moradabad, from where he is an MP.

The Congress did not announce the name of the candidate for the Dausa seat to fight against Harish Meena. It took the party almost a week to pursue Namo Narain to contest from this reserved seat against his brother.

It’s the same constituency from where late Rajesh Pilot was elected three times and later his wife Rama Pilot won the seat in the by-election that was caused by the death of her husband. Later Rajesh’s son Sachin was elected from the seat.

However, in 2008 following delimitation the seat declared was reserved for the Scheduled Tribe because of large presence of the Meena community. Now the same constituency would enjoy a fierce battle between the members of the same family.

Srinarayan Meena, a farmer of Bamanwas village in Sawai Madhopur married twice and Namo Narayan was born of the first wife. There were four sons born from the second wife. While Harish became an IPS officer like his half brother Namo Narain, the other brothers Bhawani Singh and O P Meena are IAS officers and Dharam Singh an IRS officer.

“This is definitely the first Meena family with a glorious record of sons holding high positions. A farmer, Srinarayan worked hard to educate his children and all of them did well in their career. In fact they inspired the whole of the Meena community and a number of Meenas became civil servants” says Ram Awtar Meena, a Rajasthan Administrative Service officer.

There are more than 500 civil services officers of the Meena community who are spread all over the country.

Members of the Meena community are located mostly in a dozen districts of Rajasthan particularly in the eastern and south-eastern parts of the state. There is a saying that the Meena community from the eastern part of the state could get reservation in the government jobs because of an administrative lapse. They are not the real tribals and the real tribals are the Bhil Meenas of southern Rajasthan who were clubbed as the “Scheduled Tribe” along with the agriculture class Meenas.

But having got the advantage of reservation, a number of Meenas studied hard and competed in the civil services examination to become IAS, IFS, IPS and IRS officers.

The Meenas also hold high offices in banks and in Life Insurance Corporation and in various other government departments. They have reaped the benefits of reservation fully and are jocularly dubbed as “rich and enlightened Scheduled Tribes”.

After becoming a ST reserved seat, the Dausa seat was won by Dr Kirori Lal Meena, who deserted the BJP and contested as an Independent. Dr Kirori, who floated his own party and is currently MLA with his wife Golma Devi, is an arch rival of the other Meenas. Dr Kirori has nothing at stake in the state and he might contest the Dausa seat to retain his supremacy.

In 2009 the Congress surprised Dr Kirori Lal by fielding a Muslim Gujjar from Kashmir Valley. The Muslim Gujjars in Kashmir enjoy the status of ST and the Congress fielded Qamar Rabbani Chechi as independent without fielding its own candidate. A rank outsider Chechi gave tough fight to Dr Kirori, however Dr Kirori won by a margin of 1.48 lakh votes.

Chechi got the overwhelming support of the Gujjars and other communities, but his numbers were not adequate to challenge the might of the Meena voters.

This time Shivpal Gujjar, a person from Himachal Pradesh where like the Kashmir Gujjars also enjoy ST status, may contest as an Independent. Dhanka, another community listed as ST in Rajasthan, may field Anju Dhanka, the second time MLA as an independent.

Dr Kirori's political career is at stake and he might contest from his party Rashtrya Janta Party.

The battle is interesting with the Congress supporters chanting a different “Namo... Namo mantra” in this predominantly rural constituency.

Image: (left) Namo Narain Meena and Harish Chandra Meena

P B Chandra in Dausa, Rajasthan