Swati Vashishtha is the Chief of CNN-IBN’s Rajasthan bureau since the network’s launch. Swati began her journalistic career with Hindustan Times and has over 10 years of experience in print and broadcast journalism. She has reported on Maoist spill over on the Indo-Nepal Border in Uttarakhand, floods in the Thar desert, Salman Khan's longest jail stay in Jodhpur, revival of rail link to Pakistan across the Thar, Ajmer and Jaipur bomb blasts, Gujjar protests and Bhanwari Devi murder case besides assembly and general elections in Rajasthan. Swati is a post graduate in Psychology. Also a fine art and travel photographer, when Swati is not working on a story, she’s either putting her camera to good use or thinking Himalayas.
Rajasthan's own 'Princess and the pea' in Sawai Madhopur
Posted on: 12:19 PM IST Nov 13, 2013 IST
Remember Princess and the Pea? The fairytale about a 'real' princess and the test of a nagging pea under the mattresses she was put through by the old queen.
Princess Diya Kumari breaks bread during her election campaign today in Sawai Madhopur. She enjoyed her simple meal of bajre ki roti and chhach.
The story's political avatar is now unfolding in the Rajasthan assembly polls. Interestingly in Sawai Madhopur, a large part of which is the tiger turf of Ranthambore.
The BJP has fielded the former princess of Jaipur Diya Kumari from Sawai Madhopur shortly after the party took her in its fold at Narendra Modi's rally in Jaipur. The party was counting on the former royal family's old connection with Sawai Madhopur named after Late Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh of Jaipur whose great grand daughter Diya Kumari is.
But just after the celebrations and congratulatory posts on the princess's timelines began showing up, Dr Kirorilal Meena of the National People's Party (NPP) announced his candidature from Sawai Madhopur.
Kirorilal Meena the independent Dausa MP is originally a BJP rebel who found a bite into the Congress pie bitter as well after his wife Golma Devi briefly held the Khadi portfolio in Gehlot's cabinet. He's now, to put it mildly a bit of a force to reckon with in parts of eastern Rajasthan where Meena community holds sway.
Kirori who's now trying hard to create a third front in bipolar Rajasthan with NPP, a shelter for the rebels of BJP and Congress, has also decided to be the proverbial pea for the princess in Sawai Madhopur. Since Sawai Madhopur is a seat Kirori lost last time, to be sure he's contesting from Lalsot in Dausa as well. 'Pea' intentions palpable?
Dr Kirorilal Meena addressing a rally.
Adding to Diya's troubles is the fact that the Congress candidate from Sawai Madhopur Danish Abrar who's the son of former Union minister Abrar Ahmad can't be dismissed either.
What works for 42-year-old step grand daughter of late Rajmata Gayatri Devi Diya is she may be new to politics but politics runs in the family. It is another story though that while Gayatri Devi won the 1962 parliamentary polls from Jaipur with a record thumping majority, her step son and Diya's father Brigadier Bhawani Singh who contested on a Congress ticket in 1991 lost.
The princess has been handpicked by Vasundhara Raje like BJP MLA from Bikaner Siddhi Kumari of Bikaner's former royal family was in 2008. But she now finds herself in the thick of a loud and dusty political battle complete with the proverbial pea. And the pea happens to be a politician to the T with the advantage of being on familiar turf armed with all the tricks in the grassroots politics book.
Just that unlike the fairy tale where the pea nagging princess to restlessness proves she was a real princess; here it will be the other way round. The princess will not just have to grow a thick skin but also work really hard to fight the pea. Sawai Madhopur will be far from easy for Diya Kumari. But a large audience will be glued to the battle just as much the old queen of the fairytale.
And to borrow the conclusion from the Danish writer of Princess and the pea, Hans Christian Andersen... "Now see, that was a real story!"