Former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje finally resigned as Leader of the Opposition in the Rajasthan Assembly on Monday, bringing to an end a long-drawn-out tussle over Raje's continuance in the post. Here is a look at her life journey till date.
Former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje resigned as Leader of the Opposition in the Rajasthan Assembly on Monday, bringing to an end a long-drawn-out tussle over Raje's continuance in the post.
Raje's formal stepping down comes at a time when her bête noir Rajnath Singh, who urged her to quit, is no longer the president of the party.
Here is a look at some rare glimpses of the "Rani of Rajasthan" and the journey of her life vacillating between highs and lows.
Vasundhara Raje was born on March 8, 1953 in Mumbai. She was the fourth child of Vijayaraje Scindia and Jivaji Rao Scindia of Gwalior belonging to the prominent Scindia ex-royal family.
She completed her school education from Presentation Convent, Kodaikanal. Thereafter, she graduated in Economics and Political Science (Hons.) from Sophia College, Mumbai University, Mumbai.
Vasundhara Raje married Hemant Singh of the ex-royal Dholpur family on 17 November 1972. A year later she gave birth to a boy, whom they named Dushyant Singh.
The couple ,however,separated within a few months of the birth of their son. Though there is no clear reason as to why the marriage broke, there are speculations that Hemant Singh left Dholpur in circumstances that were mystifying and took with him all his movable possessions--leaving behind his wife, his new-born heir and his hauntingly beautiful palace.
Possessing a will of iron, Raje fought all battles, personal and professional with grit and prepared herself for a new dawn-- Politics. Vasundhara Raje was initiated into politics by her mother in 1982. Rajmate Vijayraje Scindia was the first member of the family to join active politics in 1962.
Her brother MadhavRao Scindia joined the Congress and remained in the party till his death and his son and Vasundhara Raje's nephew Vikramaditya Scindia is now in the Congress too.
Vasundhara's sister Yashodhara Raje Scindia, is in the BJP and has been a Madhya Pradesh MLA and minister.Vasundhara's son Dushyant Singh is in the BJP too, though he's married to a Congressman's daughter.
Raje held a variety of posts in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and was elected to the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly in 1985. From 1989 onwards she won four consecutive elections to the Lok Sabha from Jhalawar, Rajasthan.
Under Atal Bihari Vajpayee's premiership, Vasundhara Raje held independent charge of numerous cabinet departments: Small Scale Industries and Agro & Rural Industries, Personnel and Training, Pensions and Pensioners' Welfare, Public Grievances and Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space and her most prominent role, that of the Union Minister of State for External Affairs.
Seen here with former Sri Lankan President, Chandrika Kumaratunga.
In 2003, she emerged as a Rani in the true sense of the word by becoming the first woman chief minister of Rajasthan leading her party to its biggest victory in the state elections.She won against Rajesh Pilot's wife, Rama Pilot from Jhalraptan in Jhalawar district.
Raje reinvented herself for the masses. As a part of her pre-poll strategy, she undertook a 105 day yatra, covering 13,012 kms of the desert land. Her Rajasthani dresses with accessories created a huge impact and she even wore ghungroos with traditional bangles.
Vasundhara Raje's five-year term as Chief Minister was marked by a strong focus on infrastructure-building and social initiatives. Development being her primary concern, she also looked into security for women and dalits.
In 2007, she was awarded "Women Together Award", by the United Nations Organization, for efforts to assist women in self-empowerment.
She implemented a Tourism Unit Policy in Rajasthan. On the social front, Vasundhara introduced mid-day meal schemes for mothers, insurance schemes, transportation vouchers for girl students and skills training for workers.
On the downside, Vasundhara's government supported reservations to the Meena caste, which led to demands by the Gurjar caste for similar reservations. Another issue that was raised against her was corruption within her administration.
This eventually led to the party's defeat in the 2008 Assembly Elections in Rajasthan. After BJP's dismal performance in 2009 general elections in Rajasthan, she was asked to quit as leader of opposition in the state assembly by Rajnath singh, then party president.
However Raje remained defiant. Sixty of the BJP's 70 MLAs in Rajasthan supported her and were paraded in Delhi as a show of strength.
In October, after an ugly stand-off, Raje finally sent a resignation letter to Rajnath Singh but refused to send it to the Speaker of the Rajasthan Assembly, which meant that in effect, nothing changed till Monday, 22nd February 2010 when she finally stepped down.