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How BJP plans to unite splintered Rajasthan unit & counter Bharat Jodo with Jan Aakrosh Yatra

JP Nadda flagged off BJP's rath yatra, which will cover 200 assembly constituencies, in Jaipur Thursday. Ex-CM Vasundhara Raje and state BJP chief Satish Poonia shared the stage.

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New Delhi: Days before the Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi enters Rajasthan, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has kickstarted its own Jan Aakrosh (people’s anger) Yatra, a mass contact programme that will cover 200 constituencies in the state ahead of next year’s assembly election. 

In addition to countering the Congress’s march, the Rajasthan BJP also aims to present a united face at a time when its state unit is riddled with factionalism — including the camps of former CM Vasundhara Raje and state party chief Satish Poonia.  

Launching the rath yatra in the Congress-ruled state — one of only two states where the party is in power on its own — Thursday, BJP national president J.P. Nadda accused its chief minister, Ashok Gehlot, of caring more for his party than for the people of Rajasthan. 

Nadda also flagged off 51 ‘Jan Aakrosh Raths‘ at Jaipur, which will travel across various assembly constituencies in the state. 

Speaking to ThePrint, a senior BJP leader said, “Our yatra is being launched at a time when Gehlot and (Congress leader and former deputy CM) Sachin Pilot have been squabbling openly. At the same time during Nadda ji’s rally, all the senior BJP leaders, including former chief minister Vasundhara Raje, state president Satish Poonia and (leader of the opposition in the state assembly) Gulab Chand Kataria shared the stage and gave the message of a united party.”

The Bharat Jodo Yatra is all set to enter Rajasthan from Madhya Pradesh on 4 December. The BJP appears to have a similar counter-strategy at play in the latter state, too — a day before Gandhi arrived in the tribal village of Baroda Ahir last week, MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan paid it a visit and flagged off the Janjatiya Gaurav Yatra, an Adivasi outreach programme.

Also Read: ‘Ghar wapsis’ galore as old faces return to Rajasthan BJP, but Raje loyalists still out in cold

Senior BJP leaders to address rallies

Nadda also chaired a meeting of the core committee that was attended by Raje, Poonia, Kataria and BJP national general secretary and Rajasthan in-charge Arun Singh, among others. According to party sources, Nadda implored the leaders to present a ‘united front’ and ensure the Jan Aakrosh Yatra is successful. 

“The implementation of the programme was discussed at length. A total of 200 raths will cover a distance of 75,000 km and 200 seats between 3 and 13 December. Also, senior leaders, including Poonia, Arun Singh, Raje, Kataria, (Union ministers) Arjun Ram Meghwal and Gajendra Shekhawat, will not only travel in these raths, but also address rallies between 14 and 20 December, covering around 15-20 assembly constituencies ,” explained a party functionary. 

The raths will travel across villages and towns and cover 35-40 km in each constituency. The party also plans to organise 20,000 gram chaupals (meetings in rural areas) and 20,000 nukkad sabhas (street meetings) to interact with the people and highlight the policies of the Union government and the alleged weaknesses of the Congress government in Rajasthan.

The yatra aims to corner the state government on issues relating to farmers, unemployment and the law and order situation. The BJP’s state unit will also observe 17 December, the fourth anniversary of the Ashok Gehlot government, as a ‘black day’. The Jan Aakrosh rallies will continue till 20 December, a few days before the Bharat Jodo Yatra is due to leave the state.

“If you want your sisters to be safe, employment opportunities should be created here…If you want the prices of petrol and diesel, and the electricity tariff, to decrease in Rajasthan as well, then this government will have to be removed from its seat. Communal tension has also increased in Rajasthan,” Nadda said while addressing party workers in Jaipur Thursday. 

Factionalism in the BJP 

Party sources told ThePrint that it’s not just about the Congress; with hardly a year left for the assembly election, the BJP’s state unit is also fighting factionalism. 

The party leadership has also been emphasising the need to contest the election under the collective leadership of the state unit and ‘Brand Modi’.

The Rajasthan leadership has been told by central leaders, including state in-charge Arun Singh, that with Prime Minister Narendra Modi being the biggest brand and face of the BJP, they should not worry about the leadership issue as that will be decided by the high command.

“While the Congress has only a Gehlot-Pilot headache to handle, things are not that simple as far as the BJP is concerned. Not only Poonia and Raje, there are a number of other senior leaders that the central leadership has to factor in. Everyone has been told strictly to toe the party line and concentrate on the elections,” said a senior leader. 

(Edited by Geethalakshmi Ramanathan)

 Also Read: Meethi nok jhok!’ Rahul Gandhi-Jairam Ramesh banter tries to show kinder, gentler Congress


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