Tuesday, 24 May, 2022
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Vasundhara Raje has taught the BJP a lesson again. And Gehlot-Pilot did all the work for her

The Sachin Pilot breakaway episode was a blessing in disguise for both Vasundhara Raje and CM Ashok Gehlot. Both proved their worth to the central leadership in New Delhi.

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You may disagree on who actually won in the Rajasthan Congress battle between Sachin Pilot and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. But there is one undisputed and unexpected winner that everybody had written off – BJP’s Vasundhara Raje. She emerged from her long hibernation at the right moment and reasserted her political swag in her trademark style.

Rajasthan’s former chief minister and senior BJP leader Vasundhara Raje has once again proved that you may hate her, love her, but you cannot ignore her. One may question her functioning style or her occasional arrogance, but no one can question her charisma, appeal, and stature in the state.

For over a year now, Raje supporters felt that she was being sidelined by the BJP’s central leadership in Delhi. But the recent Sachin Pilot episode that shook the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government for almost a month came as a blessing in disguise. This crisis has helped both Ashok Gehlot and Raje prove their leadership skills in the state as well as at the national level.

Also read: Why BJP failed to power through Rajasthan political crisis the way it did in Madhya Pradesh

Power of Raje

When chief minister Ashok Gehlot was blaming the BJP for trying to destabilise his government, Raje kept mum and did not issue any statements. Rather, she was busy tweeting birthday wishes, good luck to students and just one tweet on the Congress crisis. She let state BJP president Satish Poonia and his colleagues fight it out. She only entered the scene three days before the crisis in Congress ended.

BJP leaders told me that Raje, during her stay in New Delhi, let the central leadership know that nothing could happen in Rajasthan without her consent. She also raised the issue of the state executive committee formation, comprising mostly of her critics. She emphatically told the central leadership that she was not being given due importance.

Political grapevine is rife in Jaipur that she communicated to the BJP leadership that she was not consulted and not taken into confidence on the Pilot issue and was not prepared for the young Congress leader’s entry into the BJP. Raje supposedly has the support of over 50 per cent of the 72 MLAs that the BJP has in the state assembly, as of now.

This is why the BJP couldn’t do in Rajasthan what they could in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.

Also read: Raje ‘upset’ as new Rajasthan BJP executive committee has more detractors than loyalists

On her own turf

The logic is simple. Why would Vasundhara Raje want another competitor — that too from another competing party? Raje is not ready for anything less than the chief minister’s post in Rajasthan, and when she is not ready to accept any other leader from her own party, forget about any leader from the Congress.

For now, as Sachin Pilot and Gehlot call truce, Raje has been able to show her political prowess to leaders sitting in New Delhi. She has been able to prove that she still holds power in Rajasthan.

Political analysts even say that if Raje was at the helm of BJP’s affairs during this crisis period in the Congress, the results would have been different.

But Raje has been silent for nearly two years now, except for occasionally meeting grassroots party workers and a few of her old cabinet colleagues. She has been spending time in her ancestral Dholpur house. She self-isolated for a while in Lucknow after Bollywood singer Kanika Kapoor was found to be Covid-positive. Raje had attended a party with her. She was also present at Ashok Gehlot’s video conference with all MLAs and MPs of Rajasthan on the coronavirus in May.

But the BJP had completely sidelined her. The infighting in the BJP is so deep now that a staunch Raje loyalist Yunus Khan’s poster put in front of the BJP office in Jaipur on his birthday was torn by some BJP workers. Political insiders say that even in the selection of the state BJP president, Raje was not consulted — and Poonia was selected. He is not considered a part of the Raje camp, but is close to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

One must not forget that people may have grudges and complaints against Raje’s style of functioning or governance but there is no match for her in the state. The people still respect her, and the BJP can face problems if she refrains from party activities or is made to stay silent.

Also read: Vasundhara Raje breaks silence, says people of Rajasthan paying price for Congress discord

An arrogant leader

After this Congress fiasco, one thing is for sure: Vasundhara Raje should be given more power in Rajasthan if the BJP is to be fortified in the state. The party is facing increasing factionalism and in-fighting and is no different from the Congress. Raje has great charisma, huge following and political astuteness. She would be the right choice to strengthen the BJP in Rajasthan before the next assembly election in 2023.

But before that, Raje has to also change her style of functioning, which, according to BJP workers, was autocratic during her previous stint as chief minister from 2013 to 2018. Workers would often say that she encouraged and thrived on sycophancy. She was seen as arrogant because she kept away from the public and journalists. Moreover, she was also considered inaccessible by the average party worker.

Hopefully, she won’t repeat her previous mistakes and the BJP won’t repeat the mistake of sidelining her in Rajasthan again.

The author is a senior journalist in Jaipur. His Twitter handle is @anilsharma45. Views are personal.

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  1. Typical Indians, especially politicians. They play with others’ lives for their own benefit. We still have cruel mughals and cunning colonials in India – yes, their left behind converts – who will be a perennial problem. Real Hindus – not the elite and fake ones in media and bollywood – need to wake up. Numbers and strength matters now.

  2. Jayalalitha used to give kiss of death to her allies. First Vaiko and then Vijayakanth. Madharao Scindia has been given this kiss, he is enjoying the spoils now, but definitely he and his fellow ditchers will be shown their true place by BJP. As of now , Pilot is lucky to escape !

  3. BJP lost Rajasthan due to leadership by vasundhara.She ought to be removed from party as her remaining in party will ruin party in future.She is abrasive arrogant royal.She is unfit in BJP

  4. So foolish of the writer to make this wild interpretation. Pilot rebelled against Gehlot who rubbed salt on his wounds by calling him nikamma amd nikara. Pilot developed cold feet as he didnt not get the required support to break his party and bring down Gehlot govt. Pilot then went back to congress and ended up with egg on his face. Where does BJP fit into all this ? What has Vasundhara Raje got to do with this ? If Pilot had brought enough MLA s with him then this govt would have surely fallen. So what is the role of Vasundhara ji in all this. I wonder how hatred for BJP is assuming absurd proportions. One day Shivam Vij spews venom, passes the baton to other who take their turn until the week is complete where then SG takes his turn to cement those lies with absurdity at its peak. You people need to wake up and smell the coffee. The wine and dine, cozying with ministers and bureaucrats part of journalistic life was over in May 2014. Remember lies have limited shelf life even if shouted from rooftops.

  5. Author may have his own analysis on the present power tussle. I personally feel BJP is not interested to be seen as a villain in front of the public with they supported Sachin Pilot. This could be another Maharashtra episode. So they kept calm till the end. As per the Author Raje may be hugely popular but still because of her ruling BJP defeated in Rajasthan and CM seat is not permanent for anyone how much big leader they are. BJP can take tough decision on CM’s issue also. The simple example is Himachal Pradesh. So BJP doesn’t want to bring negativity on Raje if there is no possibility of success.

  6. No doubt, Vasundhara Raje was a competent CM of Bimaru Rajasthan. But someone in the highcommand turned green with envy and sidelined her. Now, barring her, there is no leader for BJP worth speaking of in Rajasthan. Incidentally, you are asking Maharani to be humble?! That’s not going to happen!

  7. BJP central leadership failed to understand that in India, people have lots of respect for people from Royal family. In Rajasthan, Vasundara should not have been ignored by BJP. Lord Krishna says in Gita that amongst people, he will always be a King. As a descendant of Royal family, Vasundara,will always command more loyalty,admiration and
    respect of the people. Due to lack of this knowledge, BJP failed to capitalise on Pilot,s revolt. BJP allowed Congress to win the match in Rajasthan.

  8. Yes, Anil, your last paragraph shows that she must mend herself. It is no surprise some of her own supporters feel that BJP has lost a chance of forming the government because of her attitude. She or any other prominent old leaders should not feel that they are bigger than a party and carried away by the media reports. They must contain her superego.

    Also, it is a good move by the Sachin to go back to the Congress party and garner a few more supporters and strike, if the same situation repeated for him. It appears the Central Leadership wanted to assess the mood of the state leaders & voters in the present scenario, a kind of a warning message for Raje to mend herself.
    Central Leadership Never allowed Sachin to announce his inclination to join the BJP & support to form a BJP government as he is worried about the supporters who are inclined to join him at an appropriate time & those of fence-sitters. Tx.

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