It is a homecoming of sorts for Princess Diya Kumari. She entered electoral politics 10 years ago, winning from the Sawai Madhopur assembly seat in 2013. In 2019, she was elected to the Lok Sabha from Rajsamand with a margin of more than 5.5 lakh votes. Both these constituencies were away from her Jaipur home, and her family often complained that she was always “missing” as she focused on her electorate. But this election, she will be fighting from Vidhyadhar Nagar in Jaipur, which is also the party’s pocket borough. She is expected to win easily, as her family had ruled over Jaipur.
“I am Jaipur ki beti (Jaipur’s daughter),” she tells voters in neighbourhood meetings. She is sought-after by voters, especially women. Many request for selfies, and she obliges.
Diya Kumari joined politics at the behest of former chief minister Vasundhara Raje. But now there is a buzz that she could have been brought in as a counter to Raje’s influence in the party. She, however, denies it. Excerpts from an exclusive interview:
Q/ It has been 10 years since you entered electoral politics. How has been the journey so far? How easy or difficult is it for royals to connect with people?
Even though people think royal families are disconnected [from people], it is just the opposite. Royal families have always been with the people…. I have seen my grandmother (Gayatri Devi)… my father (Bhawani Singh), my mother (Padmini Devi) being always among people. I think it is much more easier for us to connect with people and for people to connect with us. The credibility factor may be more than others. And if you see all erstwhile royal families are in politics. People have faith in those families because of all that they have given.
In Jaipur, I am proud to be from a background where my forefathers have given the university, hospital, airport, railway station, sewage system, the roads and so many other things to the people of Jaipur. People know that, so connectivity is there.
Q/ What are the issues you are flagging in this election?
The Congress has just not performed. The crime rate has risen so much in Rajasthan, the law and order is zero, development is zero. They are doing all this communal politics, appeasement politics. This is for people to see. There is so much infighting in the Congress from the beginning, which hasn't stopped till now. In the last few months, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has just like a magician opened up a box to take out all these (welfare schemes). But the people have not benefited at all.
Q/ It is said that you are a contender for the chief minister’s post.
I don't even think about it. This is not something I am even focusing on. That is not my job. The chief minister will be decided by the BJP’s parliamentary board, by our top leadership. Right now the focus is on winning this seat and winning our state, which we are totally committed to. We will win with a huge margin.
Q/ If the post is offered to you in the future, are you ready for it?
No post is being offered to anybody.
Q/ Parliament has passed the women’s reservation bill. Still, women are not given as many tickets.
It is the party’s decision.
Q/ There is buzz that you are projected as a counter to former chief minister Vasundhara Raje within the BJP.
I have nothing to say on this. I have very good relations with her.