‘Raje will now be a part of the close group of state and central leaders who will decide ticket distribution in Rajasthan’.
NEW DELHI: The results of the Karnataka polls will have a significant impact on the BJP’s preparation for the Rajasthan polls that are scheduled for November this year.
The influence of former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, against whom a silent movement was being run by party leaders from Rajasthan, will increase substantially in the state. According to party leaders, she will now be a part of the close group of state and central leaders who will decide the ticket distribution in the state. This was something that the anti-Raje camp in the state was trying to thwart. If the BJP had come back to Karnataka, the freedom to manoeuvre available to Raje with regards to the Rajasthan polls would have been drastically reduced.
Raje, who, as per the BJP’s assessments, has the support of at least 40 of the present 70 MLAs in the state, had come under criticism from certain quarters of the party for working “independently”.
Earlier, party leaders with stakes in Rajasthan were working on the policy of gradually shifting Raje out of active politics after the forthcoming elections. As per this policy, Raje would have played an “active” but “limited” role in the candidate selection and in the campaigning, but she would not have been appointed as the CM if the BJP had won.
In return, apart from appointing her to a gubernatorial role, her son Dushyant, who is a four-time Member of Parliament from Jhalawar-Baran, would have been accommodated in the Union cabinet. According to party sources, apart from strategic reasons, the reason to look beyond the 69-year-old Raje was to give chances to the next crop of leaders, all of whom have worked under her shadow since the turn of this century. Raje won her first election in 1985 and her first LS poll in 1989. The five-time MLA and MP became the CM for the first time in December 2003. This happened only after stalwart Bhairon Singh Shekhawat moved to Delhi.
However, post-Karnataka polls, where among the multiple reasons that contributed to the defeat of the party were the sidelining of state leaders and “excessive” interference from central functionaries, the anti-Raje camp, which would have replicated the same model in Jaipur, has now been asked to reconsider their stand. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, unlike other top leaders, have contested and won popular elections, and hence are likely to ensure that Raje is not side-lined in this election, given her mass base.
What has also made this execution of Modi-Shah’s objective easier is that there is no other mass leader in Rajasthan who can match the popularity of Raje. There are multiple leaders in the Modi cabinet and in the BJP organisation who are from Rajasthan, but despite the top leadership giving them ample time and opportunity, they have failed to capitalise on it.
Jaipur-based senior political observers say that Raje will also play a crucial role in the party’s performance in the next Lok Sabha election. According to them, of the 24 BJP Lok Sabha MPs, 15 owe their allegiance to Raje. Earlier this year, on her birthday, which falls on 8 March, Raje, to show that she still enjoys considerable popularity among the party leaders, addressed a public gathering, composed mostly of women, at the Keshorai temple in Bundi district, where she reached by helicopter. This meeting was attended by at least 40 MLAs, 10 MPs, and at least 105 former MLAs, many of whom had won in 2013 but lost in 2018. Since then, Raje had decided to go silent, as this show of strength, party sources said, had made the desired impression in Delhi and Jaipur.