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Is Vasundhara Raje still the strongest leader for BJP in Rajasthan?

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Prakash Bhandari: The re-nomination of former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje as the national president of the BJP has silenced all her detractors. After a long layoff of several months, Vasundhara Raje suddenly became active during the recent political crisis in Congress.

But Vasundhara Raje did not comment on the rebellion led by Sachin Pilot against Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. Her silence on the issue forced some of her critics like alliance partner RLD’s leader and Lok Sabha member Hanuman Beniwal to claim that she was siding Gehlot.

Vasundhara Raje still maintained her silence, but after the relaxations given by the Centre in the lockdown induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, she went to Delhi. There she met with senior party leaders and explained her position.

Her re-nomination as the vice president along with the former chief minister of Chhattisgarh Raman Singh and Jharkhand’s former Chief Minister Raghubar Das proves that the party has not written them off after the BJP’s defeat in their respective states.

However, the omission of senior party functionary Om Prakash Mathur is surprising. Mathur is being considered as the brain trust of the BJP and he was closely associated with both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah for the past ten years.

Om Mathur because of his proximity to both Modi and Shah was considered the most powerful BJP leader of Rajasthan. Whenever a search was made for an alternative to Vasundhara Raje, the name of Om Mathur came as an automatic choice.

But, in the past two years, Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who is from Jodhpur, was encouraged by some of the central leaders of the BJP, particularly Amit Shah. It was Shah who over two years ago named him as the president of the state unit of the BJP. But his name was dropped because of the opposition by Vasundhara Raje. Since then both Vasundhara and Shekhawat were at loggerheads.

Also Read: Sachin Pilot certainly not “nikamma” & “nakara”

Vasundhara Raje’s re-nomination proves that she remains the strongest party leader in Rajasthan and the only leader with a mass following. She is likely to lead the party in the next Assembly election.

It is likely that Om Mathur, who is a Rajya Sabha member, may be inducted into the Modi’s Cabinet. Currently, there are three ministers in Modi’s Cabinet from Rajasthan—Gajendra Singh Shekhawat (Cabinet), and Arjun Meghwal and Kailash Choudhry (both minister of state). In the first cabinet of Modi, there were five ministers.

If Mathur gets a ministerial berth, he is likely to be made a Cabinet minister looking at his seniority. Moreover, in the last Lok Sabha election, despite a Congress rule in the state, the BJP won all the 25 seats and the state has a claim of higher representation in the cabinet.

Bhupendra Yadav, who is also from Rajasthan, has retained his position as the party’ general secretary. Yadav had only studied in Rajasthan’s Ajmer city and he was never active in politics. But his closeness to late Arun Jaitley and Amit Shah found him a position in the party’s organisational setup and then a nomination for the Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan.
But Yadav, who was the general secretary in-charge for Bihar, has done well to win the admiration of the party’s president JP Nadda.

It was also expected that former minister Arun Chaturvedi, who also served as the Rajasthan BJP president and comes from a RSS background, will get some position in the organisation. But, he was ignored.

Olympic medallist in shooting and second time MP from Jaipur (rural), Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, who was a minister of state in the previous Modi government, could not get any position in the organisation. He was expecting a ministerial berth, but was not favoured. He has been made one of BJP’s spokespersons.

Dr Alka Gujjar, the wife of former minister and senior party leader Nathu Singh, has been made party’s secretary. Her name was forwarded as a woman candidate from the state. Dr Alka Gujjar was denied a ticket in the last Assembly election from Bandikui from where she was elected once.

 

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