More than 24 hours after violence first broke out in Dausa, Bayana and Bundi in Rajasthan, all attempts to pacify the agitating Gurjar community have failed.
Violence spread to several parts of Rajasthan on the Day 2 of the stir with protestors disrupting road and rail traffic and torching police stations as talks between the state government and agitating community leaders failed to take off.
The alleged apathetic attitude and “royal demeanour” of state Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has also given a rallying point to her political detractors.
They believe Dausa violence is the final nail in the coffin and that Raje should step down immediately.
Could Raje not have done more to ensure that Gurjar grievances over quotas did not spill over to the streets? Has Vasundhara Raje been a failure as Chief Minister of Rajasthan?
Face The Nation asked senior fellow and Professor CSDS Shail Mayaram and the people of Rajasthan.
Raje not a people’s person
The demand by the Gurjar community in Rajasthan to be included in the list of Scheduled Tribes is likely to take a heavy toll on the Vasundhara Raje government.
Five BJP MLA's - including the Panchayati Raj Minister Kalu Lal Gurjar - have offered to resign. The government has apparently sought two weeks' time to send recommendations to the Centre for inclusion of Gurjars in the Scheduled Tribe category.
But there are several voices in the state that believe that Raje has made all the wrong moves.
Rajiv, a journalist from a local daily in Dausa said, “In the past three-and-a-half years of the Raje government whenever one has asked for rights one has got bullets in return. There has been bloodbath in Rajasthan for the past two years.”
Insiders in the state government say the CM is more keen on oversees visits rather than meeting the common people of Rajasthan.
“Leaders within the BJP now don’t want Raje to last for a five-year term. It is not just the Gurjar issue but in the past there are developmental issues that have not been handled properly,” Rajiv revealed.
Now that is a stinging criticism of the Rajasthan government, so is she losing control of her hold on the people?
Mayaram agrees saying, “It is a terrible tragedy in Rajasthan. Six dead bodies are lying in the open and they are yet to be cremated. It is almost 48 hours and the CM could have reached out but she hasn’t gone. And that is the demand of the people that they want to meet the CM. Not only has there been excessive use of force there has also been a basic intelligence failure. It’s a political failure also because this community was making a democratic protest and the demand has been long in the making. It’s part of BJP’s own manifesto. So, not taking cognizance of this issue after being in power for so many years is not done.”
One of the charges against Raje is that she rules by the bureaucracy and not by the party organisation. The party is suspicious of her because she tries to keep the RSS at bay. So, she is a victim of dissidence within her own party.
“That’s right. Senior BJP leaders including Rajnath Singh have been critical of her handling of the situation. She is clearly marginalised,” Mayaram said.
Raje has marginalised the stalwarts in her attempt to make BJP in Rajasthan a little more progressive. She has tried to get investments and special economic zones to the state “but the problem is that she has lost contact with the people,” Mayaram added.
“There was a symbolic construction that went into her election like wearing the ghagra in the campaign. So, she not only projected herself as one who is married to a Rajput but linked herself to various communities. But now here is a major community, Gurjars, who have a substantial presence in six states in India but they have been ignored,” Mayaram explained.
There is a strong sense among Gurjars of marginality and this goes back to 1857. They participated in the revolt but continued to be marginalised. The Meenas got ST status and they have benefited enormously from the post-colonial dispensation unlike the Gurjars.
Another question that has been haunting the state machinery is why is there a constant recourse to police firing on the part of the Raje government? This is the tenth incident of police firing in the state.
“Yes, it is a question we need to debate. Is she not getting enough feedback from the district administration, which ought to be telling her the situation on the ground,” Mayaram said.
Perhaps this is once again an assertion of what has been called the iron law of Indian politics that for the first two years a government can do nothing wrong and for the last two years a government can do nothing right. She came to power in 2003, now Raje's government seems to be heading into anti-incumbency.
Final results of the question of the day:
Has Vasundhara Raje been a failure as Chief Minister of Rajasthan?
Yes – 11 per cent
No – 89 per cent<b><u>ALSO READ</u></b><br><a href='http://www.ibnlive.com/news/un-award-adds-to-rajes-ramp-row/39139-3.html'><font color=red><b>Raje catwalks to UN award</b></font></a><br><a href='http://www.ibnlive.com/news/raje-photoshop-politics-poster-girl/41425-4.html'><font color=red><b>The royal 'Goddess' of Rajasthan</b></font></a>