Diya Kumari had joined the BJP in 2013.
Springing its third surprise for the chief minister's post in the Hindi heartland states that it won in the recent elections, the BJP named first-time MLA Bhajanlal Sharma for the top job in Rajasthan. The party also said that Diya Kumari, one of the frontrunners for the chief minister's post, and scheduled caste leader Prem Chand Bairwa will be the deputy chief ministers in the state.
Diya Kumari is a member of the erstwhile Jaipur royal family and an MP from Rajsamand, who was asked to contest the Assembly polls from the Vidhyadhar Nagar constituency. She defeated Sitaram Agarwal of the Congress by over 71,000 votes.
The granddaughter of Man Singh II, the last ruling maharaja of the princely state of Jaipur, Diya Kumari's appeal for votes was made as a "daughter of Jaipur" and the "princess who walks on the streets". The blend of regal heritage and a 'relatable, down-to-earth persona' has made her a popular figure among the people of Rajasthan.
Since joining the BJP in 2013, Diya Kumari has won the three elections she contested. She became an MLA from the Sawai Madhopur constituency in 2013. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, she was elected as an MP from Rajsamand with one of the biggest victory margins of 5.5 lakh votes. She has now won the 2023 Assembly polls from Vidhyadhar Nagar.
During her campaign for the Assembly polls, the 52-year-old made a pitch for the environment, education, healthcare, and women's empowerment. In 2019, she was elected to serve as a member of the government's National Tiger Conservation Authority.
Speaking to NDTV, Ms Kumari thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other top leaders of the BJP for giving her the opportunity. "The Congress government has left Rajasthan in a dire state. We will make Rajasthan safe again. Women will be safe, they will get employment and there will be all-round development," she said.
She praised Chief Minister designate Sharma as a hardworking party leader. "My best wishes for him. I have worked with him in the organisation, now I have an opportunity to work within him in the government," she said.
Prem Chand Bairwa is an MLA from the Dudu Assembly seat near Jaipur. He won the November 25 election with a margin of over 35,000 votes against Babulal Nagar of the Congress.
The naming of Mr Bairwa is being seen as an attempt by the BJP to balance caste equations by naming a Brahmin face as the chief minister and Rajput and scheduled caste leaders as the deputy chief ministers. The Bairwa community has traditionally voted for the Congress and the naming of Prem Chand Bairwa may turn out to be a strategic move by the party ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP had picked former cabinet minister Mohan Yadav for the top job, preferring him over the party's longest-serving chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
For Chhattisgarh, the party decided to go with tribal leader Vishnu Deo Sai over three-term chief minister Raman Singh. PM Modi had wanted to have a tribal leader as the chief minister of the state, and Mr Sai is also known to be favoured by the party's ideological mentor, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.