Vasundhara Raje In Rajasthan After 3 Months. Why Timing Is Significant

While she has been away, Vasundhara Raje's supporters have openly called for a more active role for her in the Rajasthan BJP. For one, none of her loyalists have been given any role in the organisation.

Vasundhara Raje In Rajasthan After 3 Months. Why Timing Is Significant

Vasundhara Raje's return to Rajasthan is politically loaded ahead of four crucial state bypolls.

Jaipur:

Vasundhara Raje is back in Rajasthan after a nearly three-month break in Delhi and seems ready to end her long hiatus from active politics in the state, a factor of her diminished role over the last few years and a feud with new state unit chief Satish Poonia.

Yesterday, the former Chief Minister's return to Jaipur from Delhi by road became a huge display of her might as the route was lined with supporters cheering and shouting slogans for her.

She returned to attend a core committee meeting of the BJP, but as she arrived almost an hour late after greeting supporters en route, her message was delivered. She is not to be taken for granted.
The meeting was held ahead of four crucial state by-polls.

Vasundhara Raje, 67, had skipped the past few meetings, including those held last year at the height of the crisis in the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government over a rebellion by Sachin Pilot. At the time, Ms Raje's apparent detachment from the BJP's play rankled many in the party.

Before her return to Rajasthan, Ms Raje met with senior party leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president JP Nadda in Delhi last week.

While she has been away, her supporters have openly called for a more active role for her in the Rajasthan BJP. For one, none of her loyalists have been given any role in the organisation.

The infighting has gone public. Last week, 20 MLAs believed to be her loyalists wrote to state chief Satish Poonia alleging that they had not been allowed to raise issues in the assembly.

The letter followed a meeting of the former Chief Minister's loyalists two weeks ago in Kota, which is also Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla's constituency. Former MLAs Bhawani Singh Rajawat and Prahlad Gunjal called for Ms Raje to be projected as Chief Minister for the 2023 state polls.

"In the future the party will have to project Vasundhara Raje as the Chief Ministerial face - there is no other choice," said Bhawani Singh. Prahlad Gunjal added: "People should not try to match her stature as she is in a class of her her own."

Faced with these rumblings, the BJP leadership sent party in-charge Arun Singh for damage control.

Asked about the dissent, Mr Singh told reporters: "If anybody has any issues, we are willing to talk to them one-on-one, but nobody should consider themselves above the party."

Ms Raje, speaking to her supporters on the way to Jaipur, appeared more conciliatory.

"Times change. There are ups and downs, if you go up, you will also come down. But one has to learn and carry on," she said, apparently referring to the BJP being out of power in a state now ruled by the Congress. Some saw this as Ms Raje's dig at the state of the BJP in a scenario where she has been pushed to the sidelines.

Ms Raje's troubles started with her rift with Amit Shah at a time he was BJP president and their differences over who would lead the party in Rajasthan in the 2019 national election. She nixed Amit Shah's candidate and the post remained vacant for six months until a compromise candidate took charge. But in the national election campaign, Ms Raje was largely sidelined.

Despite their discomfiture at the power of the former royal, the BJP realizes it cannot do without her charisma and crowd-pulling ability.