Interview: K.L. Meena

‘It’s going to be a hung Assembly’

Print edition : December 13, 2013

K.L. Meena. Photo: Rohit Jain Paras

Interview with K. L. Meena, co-founder of the RJP.

KIRORI LAL MEENA, independent Member of Parliament from Dausa, has earned a reputation as a fighter. He shot into prominence when he resisted the demand by the Gujjar community for Scheduled Tribe (S.T.) status, on the grounds that it would harm the interests of the Meena community, which was already on the Scheduled list. K.L. Meena has assured the Gujjar community 5 per cent reservation in government jobs if the National People’s Party, or Rajasthan Jan Party, which he co-founded with former Lok Sabha Speaker P.A. Sangma, is elected to power. Interestingly, Meena’s wife, Golma Devi, was a Minister in the incumbent Ashok Gehlot government. Meena is credited with holding the key to the December 1 Assembly elections and may even play a spoiler. Excerpts from an interview he gave Frontline:

You are seen as the face of the third front in Rajasthan. It is felt that you may hold the key to government formation this time.

There are other fronts, too. We are not the only third front. The Rajasthan Loktantrik Morcha comprising five parties, including the Left, is also there. We are an emerging force, no doubt. It is going to be a 100 per cent hung Assembly. I can make out by the kind of response I have received in my rallies. We have been preparing for the past four years. People want change. They are fed up with both the BJP and the Congress. People like the alternative offered by us. Both are corrupt. They made us [Gujjars and Meenas] fight against each other.

Both the Congress and the BJP say that you have fielded their rebels. These candidates might go back to their parent parties once elected.

Yes, we did give the ticket to rebels but only to two sitting BJP legislators. What can we do? We got a big response from the people, so we accommodated them. Both the BJP and the Congress are the same, one is ‘naagnath’; the other ‘saampnath’. I cannot say I will be in a position to form the government but I can say that the BJP or the Congress is not going to form the government this time.

It is said that your base is confined to eastern Rajasthan, and that, being an old Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh hand, you are more likely to go back to the BJP if the need arises.

I have been holding meetings in all the five divisions of the State. Our influence is not confined to eastern Rajasthan. We have used the ‘social engineering’ principle in ticket distribution.

We have nominated a kinnar [eunuch] from Begu in Chittorgarh. I am from the RSS and I hold those values, too. As for joining the BJP, the BJP today is not the same as it was earlier.

The rot seeped into the Congress in 60 years, but the BJP inherited it in less than 15 years. They are corrupt and opportunistic.

Do you feel that the [Narendra] ‘Modi’ factor will help the BJP in a big way?

There is no impact of Modi in the State. The impact is only on Facebook, and the youth who use Facebook never come to vote. At least in the State Assembly elections, it is not a factor. Vasundhara Raje cannot hope to form the government on the ventilator called Modi. The media have hyped his importance.

It is said that the present government’s welfare schemes will have a positive impact. What is your assessment?

There is little impact on the ground for Gehlot’s schemes. It is all on paper.

Inflation, corruption and unemployment are big issues. We will win up to 50 seats. Both the parties are trying to surround me, but I will come out of the chakravyuh.