Former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje
Former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje

Jaipur: Former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje is planning to undertake a religious yatra in the Krishna Circuit in Bharatpur on her birthday on March 8, leading to speculation on whether this is an attempt to send a message to her detractors.

Raje’s supporters are busy arranging the high-profile event. Raje will begin her visit from the Adi Badri temple and then offer prayers at the Giriraj Ji and Goverdhan ki Poonchri temples and also visit other temples en route. While no official programme has been declared yet and Raje has maintained silence, her supporters are actively preparing for her visit.

Raje’s supporters on social media too are active, posting messages such as “March me Vasundhara Raje ji ka toofani daura. Iss tsumnami se achhe achhe dharashahi ho jayenge.” (Vasundhara Raje’s high-voltage tour from March will knock out even the stalwarts) and “Dhairya rakho, karm karo, jald hi sakaratmak parinam prapt honge (Be patient. Work hard. Soon you will see good results).

Recently, former minister Yunus Khan, a close Raje aide, visited Bharatpur and met with other BJP workers in Bharatpur and discussed travel and other arrangements. Those present included former MLAs Anita Gurjar and Vijay Bansal and former MP Bahadur Singh Koli among others. All the leaders are considered close to Raje who is married into the Dholpur royal family.

Political commentators say that Raje, who is upset with her being sidelined in the state BJP, could use the opportunity as a show of strength.

Party sources said that state BJP president Satish Poonia was planning to change several leaders in the eastern belt for failing to strengthen the party at the grassroots. Worried that they could be shunted out, these leaders are now urging Raje to be more proactive.

Raje recently met union home minister Amit Shah in Delhi and is believed to have put up her grievances to him. Analysts say the party high command wants Raje, who is BJP national vice president, to play a more active role in national politics and might even send her to Bengal as a strong woman face to counter chief minister Mamata Banerjee. However, Raje is reluctant to leave Rajasthan where she has been two-time chief minister.

Rumours of a rift in the Rajasthan unit have been flying thick and fast since after the BJP’s defeat in the 2018 assembly elections. Raje’s influence in the party has been waning as a younger leadership emerges with the backing of Shah and prime minister Narendra Modi.

Controversy erupted some weeks ago when some Raje supporters floated the ‘Vasundhara Raje Samarthak Manch’ and appointed office bearers in 25 districts. There are also some other groups active on social media in support of Raje such as Team Vasundhara Raje 2023 which are lobbying for her to be the CM face in the 2023 assembly elections.

Raje had also chosen to keep silent during the political crisis in the state sparked by former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot’s rebellion last year even as the chief minister Ashok Gehlot accused the BJP of trying to topple his government.

The central leadership is aware of all these developments, say party leaders. They have made attempts to try and forge unity in the party and Raje has been included in a high-powered core committee for Rajasthan though she did not attend the first meeting of the group on January 24.

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