Fissures in Rajasthan BJP out in open as supporters and detractors of ex-CM Vasundhara Raje slug it out

Her supporters are demanding that she be named as the party’s chief ministerial face once again while leaders like the party’s state president Satish Poonia disagree with the suggestion

Photo by Himanshu Vyas/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Himanshu Vyas/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Prakash Bhandari

Former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje is all out to prove to the BJP’s high command that she calls the shots in the state. After the party’s state president Satish Poonia and the deputy leader of the Opposition and veteran former minister Rajendra Singh Rathore tried to ignore her, Vasundhara has been garnering the support of the party’s MLAs and MPs.

It’s a well-known fact that Poonia and Rathore do not enjoy the same stature or popularity as Raje either inside or outside the party. Indeed, Vasundhara Raje has attained the same imposing character that late Bhairon Singh Shekhawat enjoyed. She has served as Chief Minister for two terms, during which she was able to leave an indelible mark on the party’s cadre.

The present lot of 70 plus MLAs, 25 members of Lok Sabha and all the members of the Rajya Sabha from the state are holding their current status because of her and she enjoys tremendous confidence among the elected representatives. This has created a peculiar situation in the otherwise disciplined party with several factions indulging in issuing disparate statements.

A few days ago, her supporters organised a public meeting in Kota which was strategically organized to send a message to her detractors. that she is still the boss. During this meeting in Kota, all the sitting MLAs and former MLAs assembled to pledge their support to her. This meeting was to show solidarity for her in the Hadauti region from which she hails.

The BJP workers of the region demanded that Vasundhara Raje should be declared as the BJP’s chief ministerial face once again. They said this would put to rest all speculations spread by her detractors including Poonia and Rathore. Her supporters are also planning a big rally on March 8 which happens to be her birthday.

However, Satish Poonia has said that there was no question of announcing the Chief Minister's face at this stage as there is two-and-a-half years to go for the next Vidhan Sabha elections. Poonia also said the demand for declaring any individual as the party’s chief ministerial face is an issue to be dealt by the party's high command.

Meanwhile, Raje met BJP president J P Nadda in Delhi on Tuesday and apprised him about the state of affairs of the party in the state following the panchayat and the civic polls in which the party could not perform well.

It is learnt that she told Nadda that the party had suffered because deserving candidates were not given the party’s nominations. She also reportedly blamed senior leaders of the party for frittering away the opportunity of forming governing boards in some local bodies because of factionalism.

Raje had also recently met Union Home minister Amit Shah to apprise him about the party’s affairs in the state.

Raje has been abstaining from the party’s meetings of late out of annoyance for being ignored during the panchayat and civic polls. She has also not been attending the ongoing Vidhan Sabha session.

Incidentally, political observers within the BJP feel that Raje’s strategy is to pressurise the party’s central leadership in Delhi to include her son Dushyant Singh in Modi’s Cabinet. Dushyant Singh is a three-time member of the Lok Sabha from Jhalawar, which was once his mother’s constituency.

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