INTERVIEW| I prefer to BJP Karyakarta first, then a royal: Princess Diya Kumari On CM pick

| Updated: 23 November, 2023 11:30 am IST

JAIPUR: Rajasthan Assembly elections are just around the corner and the princess from the royal fort has come out to the general public to seek votes from the electorates in Jaipur. BJP MP Diya Kumari, who is BJP candidate from Vidhyadhar Nagar, calls herself ‘people’s princess’ and takes immense pride in calling herself BJP Karyakarta.

The New Indian’s Executive Editor Rohan Dua spoke to Diya Kumari while she was on a campaign trail. Here is the excerpt of the conversation.

Rohan Dua: Now, considering the fact that you were one of the prominent faces of this election when your induction took place in 2013, I very vividly recollect that, except for the insistence of the top leadership, the proper leadership of BJP, you went on to become a force of the pro-democracy and you went on to become a member of the legislative assembly. What gives you the most sense of gratification today, as an MLA or as an MP? 

Diya Kumari: I think both because both serve the people. So, you know, either when you’re an MP or an MLA, well, the only thing is when you’re an MLA, you’re more connected to the grassroots. So, there are a lot of things and a lot of issues and other things are all related to the state government. So, at the state level, we can get a lot of things, a lot of problems resolved because it is connected to issues related to water or some other issues, housing, water. So those kinds of things are resolved at the state level while at the national level, we are talking more about making laws. There you actually have to, a lot of issues which come up which are national issues. So, it is a little bit different, but both involve working for the people. So, I am happy, I am very happy being an MP and also very happy when I was an MLA. I was an MLA from Sawai Marj. 

Rohan: Of course! What gravitates me towards your campaign today in Jaipur, is the fact that for someone who carries the strong lineage of the Mansingh family, for someone whose father served in the forces, for someone whose mother went on to study in Switzerland, for someone like you who went on to have a brilliant alma mater from Delhi to the UK. What is it that makes Diya Kumari sit over, lording over huge assets, running into crores, still becoming so austere and modest that she must come to public life and serve the society? 

Diya: See, my parents and my family always believed in being humble and down to earth. Even though, you know, whatever background, the background that I am from, we always lived very simply. You know, never really believed in being too ostentatious and showing off and all of that. I think it was always serving the people. Whenever there was a problem in Jaipur or around Jaipur, my grandfather used to immediately go and be there with the people. And so did my father. 

Whenever there were riots or problems, he was always there with them. Without security, without anybody. Driving himself. I’ve seen that. And then I think those are the things that I’ve imbibed from them, learned from them. And that’s how I am. So, I think, and also what you’re talking about, these assets, you know all these assets also require a lot of work, a lot of maintenance and it’s a huge responsibility. With the legacy comes responsibility. And we also have this huge heritage which we have to look after, take care of and take it forward. 

Rohan: But my question is also because for someone like you who has been very resolute in serving the society of the arts, I have been a political journalist and I have also covered counterterrorism and security agencies as well. There was also a period in your life as well when you went through a lean patch, where there were problems and acrimony within the BJP as well when your properties were being slapped notice as well. How did you overcome those challenges to become what you are today and yet the reliance which BJP has today on you, someone like you that many in Jaipur, many in Rajasthan feel that you are a CM probable as well? 

Diya: Well, you see, I don’t know about that but yes, problems happen in everybody’s life and all these things that you’re talking about, issues, cases, all of that happened with so many people, not just me and the parties always stood by me.

Rohan: But in your case, it happened when your party wasn’t with you. 

Diya: No, but then the parties still stood by me, and they helped me out. So, I think that was resolved at that time. 

Rohan: I don’t want to name the person who was behind this. We know in certain stages who was behind this, but my question to you is how do you overcome such things? 

Diya: I think this is all part and parcel of politics. And I think we all take it in our stride. And it’s best to just move on and do our work and I concentrate on the task given to me which was of course being an MP, being a good MP, looking after my constituency, my people, working for them, getting all their demands, whatever they wanted and I’ve been able to almost do everything that was asked of me being an MP of Rajasthan and I’m so happy about that. The Prime Minister and the Central Government have been very kind to me and to my people. So that was that. 

 

Rohan: I was also part of the Prime Minister’s tour yesterday. I mean, of course, we all saw and witnessed the kind of enormity and the magnitude to which scale Jaipur saw when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was passing by. What does it give you today, personal gratification and a sense of satisfaction that you are working with a man like him or you are also working with someone like Vasudha Raje here as well? 

Diya: See, working with Prime Minister Modi has been a great experience. I really admire him, I idolise him and so does everyone here and the whole country and not only our country, the whole world. He is an icon. He works so hard. I don’t know when he sleeps or when he eats, he never takes a holiday, never takes a break. He expects the same of all his members of parliaments and also expects the same of the party. So, I know as an MP, he used to meet us every Tuesday during Parliament and tell us, now this is what you have to do. This is what you have to do. You must do this. All those tips, all the guidance that he gives all the Parliamentarians during the Parliament session are so useful and that is what we admire – that this person is so rooted. He is sitting there but he still knows what is going on in the common man’s mind. What we should do, how we should help, what we should be doing, what we should do for the women, for the downtrodden, for the farmers, for the youth.

Rohan: So, that brings me to a very interesting question: What gives you more courage to become what you are, being called a princess or being called a BJP Karyakarta? 

Diya: BJP karyakarta. And princess, the thing is, I’m very proud of my lineage, of the contribution that my family has made over centuries. I’m very proud of that. But right now, I’m also proud of being a member of the BJP and a karyakarta. And of course, being a karyakarta, I have felt that I have touched so many people’s lives and I have been able to help so many people. That gives you more satisfaction than anything else does. 

Rohan: So, you would love to sink your teeth into the common dinner and lunches which the BJP has, not sitting in your palaces and hotels that you have? 

Diya: Everything, you know, hotels and palaces and others, you have to look after what you’ve been given, and we also take care of all that. That’s what I said, that’s our heritage and you must take care of that. But at the same time, I’m very happy being with the people, you know, being with everyone, my constituents and other people, meeting them, being with them, helping them, that gives so much more happiness and then I said, gives me happiness to help somebody, if somebody wants a road or has a drinking water problem or some other problem – to help them overcome that is so satisfying. 

Rohan: But given that the mandate is going to be a landslide, which the service announced, is showing that BJP is going to get a landslide victory, would you not miss the Indian Parliament, the new Parliament where you entered? The new Parliament building, just within three years of your life, of a career in the second term of the Modi government, and now that you are going to be elected as an MLA, if you go on to win and probably as a Chief Minister as well, which many say, will you remember the Parliament more or the Vidhan Sabha here? 

Diya: See, the party, whatever responsibility is given by the party, I will go along with it. If they have given me a ticket as an MLA, of course, I have to be there to do that job. They gave me an MP; I did that job well. So that’s what my focus is.

Rohan: And even if the party chooses someone else as the Chief Minister, you would love to serve as a Cabinet Minister?

Diya: Obviously, obviously. Whoever the party gives the responsibility to, whichever responsibility, we have to go along with that. 

Rohan: And how was your experience meeting Amit Shah and others when the tickets were getting distributed? Did you stick to this constituency, or did you seek another constituency as well? 

Diya: No, no, no, no discussion like that. I was told over the phone that this is what we have decided and then I went along with it.

 

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