The BJP will fight next year's Rajasthan elections with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as its face, state unit chief Satish Poonia announced on Saturday, in what could be seen as a fresh snub to former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.
"Sometimes faces are projected, sometimes they are not. The BJP will fight the upcoming elections under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Uttar Pradesh in 2017 was not contested under Yogi Adityanath, yet we won," Mr Poonia announced on Day 2 of a three-day BJP strategy meeting in Jaipur.
That the statement came more than one year ahead of the next elections and the state BJP chief also stressed how the party had cultivated a "next generation" of leadership, fanned doubts about whether it was a message to Ms Raje, its biggest crowd-puller in the state.
Ms Raje's ties with the central leadership of the BJP as well as Mr Poonia have been the subject of much speculation, although there have been efforts on both sides to play down reports of any strain.
BJP chief JP Nadda, on his part, made sure to have Ms Raje by his side on stage and during a roadshow in Jaipur a day ago besides Mr Poonia and other leaders.
The timing and contents of the state BJP chief's announcement, however, could be seen as a signal that while Ms Raje may have a key role in the state's leadership, she may not be the party's Chief Ministerial nominee.
Despite being out of power, Vasundhara Raje has been noticeably assertive about her role in the party in recent years, most recently celebrating her 69th birthday in March with a temple visit and a rally in Bundi district's Keshoraipatan.
The celebrations were seen by many as setting the political tone for the 2023 Rajasthan polls, with Ms Raje attacking the Ashok Gehlot government, listing out the achievements of her government and calling for a record electoral performance by the party next year.
The size of the crowd that had gathered at her public meeting and the attendance of a dozen MPs and MLAs along with party workers, barring Mr Poonia, indicated Ms Raje was still a potent force in Rajasthan's politics.