Groupism in Rajasthan BJP intensifies: Vasundhara’s ‘show of strength’ on 4 March

The group fighting in the Rajasthan BJP is at its peak now. The infighting has turned into a big political battle between former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and the rest of the BJP, with the latter camp being led by state unit president Satish Poonia.
The situation has come to such a pass that the BJP has distanced itself from the celebration being organised by Raje on 4 March. In fact, Vasundhara Raje is organising a massive show of strength four days before her birthday which is on 8 March. She is organising a religious event at pilgrim centre Salasar Balaji. Earlier, Raje had planned the event for 8 March but due to Holi it has been advanced to 4 March.
Raje has been organising religious events earlier also. But the upcoming programme of this month is being viewed as a direct challenge to the leadership by her. As a matter of fact, the jostling is for the candidature for chief minister’s post. The high command does not want to project any leader as CM face during the elections this year-end. BJP national president JP Nadda has made it clear that the party would fight the Rajasthan polls in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s name. PM Modi’s active involvement in Rajasthan has been clearly felt as he has addressed public meetings at various places so far. This has been seen as a snub to Raje whose supporters are pitching for her candidature for CM post. But the high command is unlikely to yield to pressure from Raje’s camp. During several elections in the past, Raje always succeeded in getting herself announced as the CM face. Raje did not allow Gajendra Singh Shekhawat to be appointed party president despite all efforts by the high command during the 2018 polls. The BJP lost the polls in 2018, following which Raje was appointed national vice president of the party, and the state leadership was handed over to Satish Poonia. The party has not changed Poonia despite the end of his term. The party has not yet chosen any leader for the post of leader of opposition after Gulab Chand Kataria’s posting as Assam Governor. Raje supporters were hopeful that the party would make her the leader of opposition, which would then be a message that she would be the CM face.  The high command is unlikely to appoint a LoP, now as there is no important session of assembly left after the budget session which will last till 15 March. It means the message is that Raje would not be projected as CM candidate. The programme to be held at Salasar on 4 March is being seen as significant development in this background. All supporters and MLAs loyal to Raje are working hard to make it a grand success. Meanwhile, the BJP has announced a gherao of the Assembly on 4 March itself.  Poonia has declined to comment on Raje’s upcoming event. But the state BJP president has appealed to MLAs and leaders to join the protest near the Assembly on 4 March. Raje supporters are looking at this programme of BJP as an attempt to spoil the Salasar event. They argue that Raje’s programme had been announced quite earlier. Raje supporters want to give out a message to the Delhi leadership that ignoring the former CM would cost the party dear. The central leadership is also keeping a close eye on the programme. With elections in Rajasthan just eight months away, the BJP’s infighting is at its peak. What remains to be seen is whether the leadership yields to Raje’s pressure or ignores her.

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