Jaipur: Former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s two-day Dev Darshan yatra in Bharatpur district was targeted not only at her opponents but also at her detractors within the BJP to convey the message that her political innings in Rajasthan is not over yet.
Raje’s supporters worked hard to make the two-day yatra which ended on Monday, a grand affair to tell the party leadership that she still enjoys support within the party and the state. The Raje camp, too, will use the yatra as a testing ground to gauge the support she still commands and plan their next move.
Her supporters worked for almost a month to ensure that crowds gathered to welcome the former CM during the yarta which also attracted eight MPs, 11 MLAs and several former MLAs.
Since the BJP’s defeat in the 2018 assembly polls and elevation of Satish Poonia as state BJP president, Raje’s presence in state politics has been diminishing. The central leadership is desirous that she shift to the national level but Raje has not relented. Instead, she has been trying to show her strength and popularity in Rajasthan BJP and in the state through her supporters.
Poonia who is on a three-day tour of the Mewar area in south Rajasthan chose not to comment on Raje’s Dev Darshan yatra. He only said that someone celebrating their birthday is not a political event.
On Monday, which was Raje’s birthday, she visited the Badrinath temple in Bharatpur and offered prayers. Speaking to the media, she said we will work to make Rajasthan strong again. Development cannot happen when there are disputes and enmity. When one progresses, we all progress, she said.
Raje herself denied that the yatra was a show of strength. She said there was no politics in her programme but there was morality because that is what her mother Vijaya Raje Scindia had taught her
“When I first contested elections from Dholpur, my mother told me doing politics is easy but being moral is not easy. Making the people your family and working for them is not easy. But in the end everyone benefits,” Raje said.
However, Raje also chose to remind the party of her mother Vijaya Raje Scindia’s contribution.
“My mother lit the lamp and made the lotus bloom. She never let the flame of the lamp dim nor let the lotus wilt. BJP was in her blood and nationalism was in every pore of her body. I am her daughter,” she told a gathering of supporters at Pooncchri ka Lautha in Bharatpur district where she arrived by helicopter on Sunday.
Political commentators say Raje’s comments can be seen as a message to her detractors within the party that she cannot be sidelined.
Raje also hit out at the government of chief minister Ashok Gehlot. She said I have come to offer obeisance to Girirajji so he gives us his blessings and strength to all of us to throw out this anti-development Gehlot government and restart development work in the state.
Through her comments, Raje indicated to the party high command that she has no intention of leaving Rajasthan and shifting to the national stage.
Raje loyalists have been clamouring for her to be named as the CM face for the 2023 assembly elections. Online campaigns and meetings of leaders from the Raje camp have been organised to press this demand.
Rajasthan incharge Arun Singh and BJP national president JP Nadda have tried to play down the rift and forge unity in the party but have not been completely successful. But the high command does not seem to be in the mood to play ball with Raje and it remains to be seen what strategy she will adopt in future.