Raje is ‘indispensable’ for BJP in Rajasthan.


NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visits to Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are an indication of the fact that he is quite serious about both the states. During his visit to Ujjain in MP to inaugurate the Mahakal Corridor recently, PM Modi signalled that Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will stay on and will lead the BJP in the Assembly elections next year. So, the tussle for the CM post in Bhopal will now come to an end after this message.
In fact, Congress led by Kamal Nath seems to be in a position to give a tough fight to the BJP in Madhya Pradesh. In this situation, Shivraj is considered to be the best bet. Meanwhile, stability still eludes BJP in Rajasthan despite PM Modi’s visit there. It is almost certain that PM Modi will actually be “the face” for BJP during polls in every state. The CMs will not be changed in any poll-bound state. PM Modi will be the face wherever the BJP is in opposition.
Nothing illustrates PM Modi’s seriousness about MP better than the fact that he visited the state twice in a period of just one month. First time, he went to Sheopur in MP to release cheetahs in Kuno National Park on his birthday. Second time, the PM visited Ujjain to inaugurate Mahakal Corridor. The function was a memorable one. The devotion that PM Modi showed for the lord Shiva during the puja was a message for the Hindu community. The BJP will definitely use it to project its Hindutva image during the polls. Both the Sheopur and the Ujjain projects will promote tourism which will lead to employment generation as well. Sources say PM Modi will visit MP more frequently after the polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh are over. BJP is keen to retain power in MP for two obvious reasons. One, the state is said to be the laboratory of RSS where the BJP wants to remain in power. Two, last time the saffron party had lost the polls in the state. Later, the Congress’ infighting resulted in the BJP coming back to power. Kamal Nath continues to recall this incident seeking sympathy from the public. So, now the BJP wants to show its political strength by sweeping polls in MP. What favours Nath is that the high command has given him a free hand. There is no challenge to him in the party as well. The BJP believes that Congress under Nath could pose a challenge to it. With this in view, the party does not want to take any risk of infighting by changing Shivraj Singh.
At the same time, the situation is complicated for BJP in Rajasthan. It will be difficult for the party to ignore former CM Vasundhara Raje. The BJP leaders demonstrate unity in presence of PM Modi or central leadership. But after the visit is over, the faction fighting resurfaces. State BJP President Satish Puniya has repeatedly said that no face would be projected for CM post for the next year assembly polls in Rajasthan. The party will be fighting polls banking on PM Modi’s popularity only. But Raje and her supporters never miss any chance to organise programmes in what goes as a show of strength. Raje may not be looking that active but she also makes it a point to be part of any such event. Raje tries to give the message through religious functions that she is an indispensable leader for the party. Analysts believe that Raje is the most popular leader of BJP in Rajasthan, given the mammoth crowd that her rallies keep drawing. Massive crowds during “the darshan procession” organised by Raje at Shakambhari Mata Mandir at Sikar was a clear message about her grand stature. Raje’s strength could be seen in the Bikaner rally too. Meanwhile, Puniya is also focussing on consolidating his position by visiting different pockets of the state. Apart from Raje and Puniya, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, MP Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Diya Kumari and CP Joshi are some of the other contenders for the CM post. Birla does not lobby for himself, but his supporters do project him as a face for the top job. However, Raje scores over all these names in terms of popularity, clout and hold across the state. What worries the high command is that if Raje does not relent on being projected for the CM post, then winning Rajasthan will become a challenging task. Congress high command has already weakened the grand old party there by “disturbing” CM Ashok Gehlot. This makes the electoral task easier for BJP. If Gehlot is again given a free hand then he can make the electoral task tougher for the BJP.
Undoubtedly, Gehlot has gained public sympathy after all the political ‘conspiracy’ against him recently. In days to come, the issue of “true bearer of Rajasthani identity” (Rajasthan Asmita) may gain momentum.