Kailash Meghwal’s suspension from the party is a message for Vasundhara Raje.
The suspension of senior leader Kailash Meghwal from the BJP bodes ill for former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje. The party has sent out a message that no pressure politics will be accepted.
In fact, Kailash Meghwal’s statement against Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal is being linked by the Delhi leadership to the politics of Raje. Kailash is understood to be close to Raje. However, Raje did not get involved in anti-party activity so far. But her rivals linked the Meghwal episode to Raje’s politics. The party senior leadership took action against Kailash Meghwal and sent out a message to other factions as well.
Kailash Meghwal is one of few BJP heavyweights of the 1990s. Meghwal was close to Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, the then “Chanakya” of BJP in Rajasthan. Gradually, he got closer to Raje in her second term. Though he is in BJP, Meghwal has admirers in other parties as well. Meghwal, along with Raje, was in news when the Congress’ government in Rajasthan survived a crisis in 2020. There were allegations that the government could not fall because of Raje and Meghwal.
Things started worsening in BJP after 2020. The senior leadership remained silent and relied on Rajasthan seniors who were active in Delhi. These Rajasthan BJP heavyweights in Delhi include Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Arjun Meghwal. Om Mathur and Bhupinder Singh Yadav are not that much active in the state politics. All the three powerful leaders however got backing of state in-charge Arun Singh and secretary Chandrashekhar. All these leaders are close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. At some point of time in the past, these three leaders were close to Raje as well. But the scenario changed after the Assembly polls of 2013. The BJP came to power at the centre, with PM Modi and Shah emerging as strong leaders. Modi’s popularity did not dip in the last nine years. Despite strong leadership, Raje pursued her own politics in the 2018 assembly polls of Rajasthan. She got her decisions implemented. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat could not be made state BJP president. The Rajasthan BJP turned into a faction-ridden party.
After defeat in Assembly polls in 2018, the Delhi leadership started taking decisions for Rajasthan. Satish Poonia, who was a known rival of Raje, was appointed BJP president of the state unit. Poonia continued to tackle the challenges from Raje’s camp over four years. But the seniors from Rajasthan in Delhi somehow convinced the senior leadership to replace Poonia. PM Modi was not happy with this decision. The leadership in Delhi decided to give less importance to state leaders. The new committees featured central leaders like Arjun Meghwal. Former MP Narayan Lal Panchariya also came into the spotlight. State top leaders were not given the charge of the ‘Parivartan yatras’. Modi, Shah and J.P. Nadda are now more active. State leaders were given the message that they have to obey the decisions that come from the top. The CM candidate will be picked only after the polls. Raje camp was given a message.
Understandably, Raje supporter Kailash Meghwal has made a statement against Arjun Meghwal in what is being viewed as pressure politics by him. Kailash also pointed out that efforts are being made to weaken Raje. But this strategy came a cropper.
Sources say that BJP senior leadership is assured of a victory in Rajasthan, relying on the party’s survey predicting the saffron party’s government in the desert state. In BJP’s calculations, the party would cross the majority mark despite all setbacks.
It would be interesting to see whether the BJP can stop Congress from reaching the victory post relying on Modi’s face or if it will give Raje a key role in the campaign committee as a political gambit.