The power tussle in the BJP seems to be getting more intense with former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje planning a series of rallies in April against the Congress government.
The declaration about the rallies was made at a meeting organised by supporters of Raje in Kota on Sunday. Her supporters called for Raje’s return to active politics and to the helm of the party in 2023 to win the assembly elections.
Raje is attempting to return to active politics in the state through rallies and yatras. Recently, some supporters had announced that Raje would undertake a religious yatra in Bharatpur region on her birthday on March 8 which was seen as a push to return to the centre-stage in Rajasthan politics.
State BJP president Satish Poonia said no such rallies have been planned by the party. He said the matter will be probed to find out who all are behind this programme.
While the rallies in April are targeted at the Gehlot government to highlight its failures, political analysts say the public meetings will be a show of strength by Raje to underscore her political clout in Rajasthan to the party leadership. Her supporters are active on social media with several Facebook pages dedicated to her and lobbying for her to be the BJP's CM face for 2023.
The rallies are planned in the Hadoti region of south Rajasthan which comprises districts of Kota, Bundi, Jhalawar and Baran. Raje is MLA from Jhalawar and has also been an MP from the constituency. The Hadoti region is seen as her stronghold with a strong following there.
At the meeting, Raje’s supporters discussed plans for the rallies which they said would highlight failures and misgovernance of the Congress government.
Two-time chief minister Raje’s power in the Rajasthan BJP has been declining since the BJP lost the 2018 assembly elections. The new leadership has taken over the organisation and Raje is no longer calling the shots in the party unit.
In a recent meeting with union home minister Amit Shah, Raje reportedly put her grievances to him but has not received any assurances. Party insiders say the party leadership wants Raje, who is BJP national vice-president, to assume a more active role in national politics but she is unwilling and sees herself as the CM contender in Rajasthan in 2023.
At the meeting organised by Raje’s supporters in Kota, former MLA Bhawani Singh Rajawat cited the BJP’s unsatisfactory performance in the local bodies and panchayat polls.
“The result of sidelining Raje can be seen in the local bodies and panchayat elections, Party workers are worried by the downfall of the party. Raje is the only alternative who can revive the party and fight against the Gehlot government,” he said.
He said Shah and Rajasthan in-charge Arun Singh would also be invited for the rallies that would expose the misgovernance of the Gehlot government. He said the Congress government has shut down development schemes started by the BJP government.
“Only by projecting Raje as the chief minister for the 2023 assembly elections can the BJP defeat the Congress government,” he said.
Former MLA Prahlad Gunjal, a Raje supporter, said, “Some people are dreaming of becoming chief minister. But I can say with confidence that without Raje’s leadership, the BJP cannot come back to power.”
Former chief of the Rajasthan Lok Seva Ayog, Shyam Sharma said the BJP has been nurtured by the blood and sweat of hundreds of workers. “Today, appointments in the party, the distribution of tickets are being done at the behest of one person. If a balanced approach and equitable working style is not adopted the party will face grave consequences"he added.
The meeting was attended by several former BJP MLAs and former office-bearers in the organisation who are considered close to Raje.