Jaipur: BJP national president JP Nadda held a meeting with party leaders from Rajasthan on Friday but former chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s absence created a buzz.
Rajasthan BJP president Satish Poonia, leader of opposition in the assembly Gulab Chand Kataria and deputy leader of opposition Rajendra Rathore were called to Delhi for the meeting. BJP national general secretary (organisation) BL Santosh and general secretary Arun Singh were also present.
However, Raje was not called for the meeting, once again highlighting her growing distance from the party.
Party sources say that the party high command is considering key organisational changes in the party and Raje, who is national vice president, could be called to the centre or be appointed as governor and shifted out of the state.
While the party has been trying to move Raje out of Rajasthan, she has resisted and remained active in state politics.
Regarding the meeting in Delhi, Poonia said it was an organisational meeting which had been scheduled since a long time.
“We discussed the strategy for the forthcoming three assembly by-elections and the candidates to be fielded as well as the appointments in the party’s various cells and panels in Rajasthan,” said Poonia.
He said Nadda’s proposed visit to Rajasthan in February was also discussed in the meeting as was the party’s performance in the recent panchayat and urban local bodies.
On Raje’s absence, Poonia said, “There is a dedicated protocol regarding which leaders will attend which meeting. This meeting was for those leaders from Rajasthan who are active in the state organisation.”
However, Raje’s growing sidelining has been evident since the BJP lost the 2018 assembly polls.
With a power shift to a new set of leaders who are backed by party leaders in Delhi and the RSS, Raje is being slowly eased out.
Raje who was chief minister in 2003 and 2013, and once called the shots in the government and the party, is rarely seen in party meetings or consulted by the leadership.
Analysts say the party high command and the RSS which shared an uncomfortable equation with Raje wants to cultivate a new leadership to end the party’s dependence on Raje who remains the BJP’s most popular leader.
Raje’s waning power in the state has also seen the return of some of her critics to the party.
Last month, Ghanshaym Tiwari rejoined the party two years after quitting. Tiwari had resigned from the BJP in June 2018 after accusing Raje of being autocratic. He later joined the Congress.
There is speculation that Manvendra Singh, a former MLA and the late Jaswant Singh’s son could also rejoin the BJP. He too had quit the party owing to differences with Raje.