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Poonia could be Cong's answer to BJP's Rathore in Rajasthan

September 16, 2013 14:58 IST

Poonia could be Cong's answer to BJP's Rathore in Rajasthan

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Shahnawaz Akhtar in Jaipur

With celebrities and sportspersons being roped in by parties for the upcoming elections, it looks like Rajasthan is back to playing the caste card, reports Shahnawaz Akhtar.

Earlier this week, Olympian Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Diya Kumari, the erstwhile princess of Jaipur, were inducted into the Bhartiya Janata Party in Jaipur. Following this talks of the Congress roping in Commonwealth gold medalist Krishna Poonia has been making the news.

The induction of Kumari and Rathore -- both Rajputs -- into the BJP and the possible induction of Poonia, who is a Jat, into the Congress, make it evident that both the parties look all set to play their caste cards in the forthcoming assembly elections.

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Image: Krishna Poonia celebrates winning gold for the women's discus at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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Just like Rathore and Kumari, who were inducted into the saffron brigade by BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi at recently concluded Suraaj Sankalp Yatra in Jaipur, Poonia is expected to join the Congress on September 22 when party’s national president Sonia Gandhi will be in the state to inaugurate the Barmer refinery.

Poonia, the famed discuss thrower who made the country proud by winning a bronze medal in the 2006 Doha Asian Games, led an Indian clean sweep in the women's discus final in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, becoming the first Indian woman to do so.

The Arjuna awardee was born in a Jat family in Haryana and got married to Virendra Poonia of Churu district in Rajasthan. It is from Churu that she is interested in contesting the elections.

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Image: Olympics gold medalist Rajyavardhan Rathore speaking to BJP supporters in Rewari, Haryana alongside Narendra Modi
Photographs: Courtesy: Narendra Modi's website

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A senior leader said on condition of anonymity that it is not only the Congress but Poonia too is interested in joining the party and contesting the election from her husband’s native place.

When contacted, Poonia’s husband neither denied nor accepted the news. “Right now she is in Kerala practicing for the Commonwealth Games 2014. That is all that I can say at this time,” he said.

Sources maintain that Poonia, a railway employee, would have to leave her job before venturing into politics, and that the announcement about her joining politics will be made soon.

According to political observers, the Jat community comprises of almost 12 per cent of Rajasthan’s population, while the Rajputs represent 7 per cent. Presently, there are 30 MLAs from Jat community while 26 are Rajputs in Rajasthan assembly.

Sociologist Dr Rajiv Gupta thinks that such a trend of using the caste card could turn out to be dangerous for democracy.

“As far I can see, both parties have no development and economic agenda and hence are promoting caste by every means as it will be beneficial for both,” Gupta noted.

 

 


Image: Krishna Poonia addressing mediapersons at a government function in Jaipur


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