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

Ex-CM Vasundhara Raje met top leadership in Delhi and is learnt to have expressed displeasure as new panel mostly includes Satish Poonia loyalists and leaders with RSS background.

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New Delhi: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje is said to be “upset” over many of her loyalists not finding a place in the newly formed executive committee of the state unit of BJP. The new committee has several of her detractors, instead.

Raje recently met the central leadership in New Delhi to express her displeasure, ThePrint has learnt.

Her visit to Delhi last week to meet the central leadership had raised eyebrows as it came amid the ongoing political crisis in Rajasthan. The former CM met BJP president J.P. Nadda and BJP general secretary (Organisation) B.L. Santhosh on 6-7 August to discuss the situation in the state, sources said.

The new executive committee was formed by BJP state president Satish Poonia on 1 August. Members of the committee, the sources said, mostly include those considered to be Poonia loyalists or who come from an RSS background.

MP C.P. Joshi, MLA Chandrakanta Meghwal, former MLA Alka Gurjar, Ajaypal Singh, Hemraj Meena, Prasan Mehta, Mukesh Dadhich and Madhoram Chaudhary have been appointed as the party’s vice-presidents in the state. “Madan Dilawar, for instance, who has been given the post of the general secretary, is considered close to the RSS,” said a party source.

According to a senior party functionary in Rajasthan, Raje told the central leaders that “she is not happy with the way” the state BJP has been functioning.

“Raje told the senior leaders that she is not happy with the way the state unit has been strategising for the upcoming assembly session and their overall functioning. She also told the high command about getting less space for her supporters in the state working committee formed recently,” said the Rajasthan BJP leader.

Why Raje is upset 

Many of Raje’s detractors have found a place in the state executive committee. Take for instance the appointment of MLA Madan Dilawar, an RSS man who was denied party ticket in the 2013 state elections. Fielded by the party in 2018, he won the Ramganj Mandi seat even though the BJP lost power.

“Dilawar and Raje share an uneasy relation as the former was denied a ticket by Raje once. The fact that he has been given the post of general secretary shows he has the backing of the central leadership as well as the RSS. He is the one who has filed a case in the high court challenging the merger of the BSP with the Congress,” said a senior BJP leader.

Ajay Pal Singh, who was considered close to Raje and later had a fallout, has also been included in the committee as a vice-president. “He has earlier held the post of Rajasthan Housing Board chairman and was considered close to the former CM. But later he told people around that he was apparently mistreated by her, and also levelled certain unsubstantiated accusations against her. His inclusion too has not gone down well with Raje,” the senior leader added.

The inclusion of Rajsamand MP Diya Kumari, who the former CM had “groomed”, has also left her upset.

“Raje had supported Diya when she entered politics. The fact that she also comes from a royal family like Raje shows that the party has deliberately decided to invest in a young Rajput leader,” said the leader.

According to the leader, Raje was not in favour of fielding Kumari also during the last Lok Sabha elections, but the party ignored her reservations.

In 2016, when Raje was the chief minister, a protest was staged by the former royal family led by ‘Rajmata’ Padmini Devi after the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) sealed the main gate of the Rajmahal Palace claiming its ownership.

“The Palace Hotel was owned by the family of the then BJP MLA Diya Kumari. Following this, the BJP had to intervene to resolve the issue. This too had strained their relationship,” said another BJP functionary from Rajasthan.

The JDA had taken over 12 bighahs of land adjacent to the heritage property and also sealed the main gate of the hotel, pointing out that it was on the land that was in the the civic body’s possession.

Another Raje detractor included in the panel is Shravan Verma, who comes from an RSS background.

“Shravan Verma has been appointed as the district president of Dholpur BJP. Verma has held several posts in the organisation along with being an RSS worker. Earlier, the post was held by Bahadur Singh Tyagi, considered close to Raje,” said the first Rajasthan BJP functionary quoted above.


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


New state executive committee of BJP

Party sources said while discussions were held between Vasundhara Raje and Nadda for the assembly session starting on 14 August, the former objected to the way the state BJP has been working.

The Rajasthan BJP, however, dismissed the allegation that not much space was given to Raje supporters in the new committee.

“Social engineering has been taken care of in the state executive formed by the state president. We have given space to Rajputs, Jats, Dalits, Brahmins, among others, in the executive. We had to accommodate people from diverse backgrounds, and no one has been ignored,’ a close aide of Poonia told ThePrint.

In 2019 August, MLA Satish Poonia was made the state president. Since then, the functionaries and leaders in Rajasthan had been waiting for the state executive to be declared.

The committee set up by the BJP has eight vice-presidents, four general secretaries, nine secretaries and a state spokesperson.

A five-person disciplinary committee has also been constituted. MP Diya Kumari has also found a place in the committee, as a general secretary.

According to a senior party leader, Raje started getting sidelined by the central leadership in 2018 after the BJP lost the assembly polls. Later, the party appointed Poonia, a BJP leader with roots in ABVP and RSS, as its state president.

Raje’s ‘silence’ during Rajasthan govt crisis

Rajasthan plunged into a political crisis last month when former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot and a number of party MLAs backing him rebelled against their own Congress government led by Ashok Gehlot. While the rebel camp seems to have now patched up with the party, after Pilot met senior Congress leaders including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rahul Gandhi earlier this week, there are still some uncertainties in the state.

Amid all this, however, two-time former CM Raje has maintained a low profile, and also skipped meetings called by the state unit.

Sources said Raje is usually at her Dholpur residence when she is not actively involved in politics. “A meeting will now be held on 13 August. Apart from other discussions, the strategy for the upcoming assembly session will also be decided,” said the first Rajasthan BJP functionary quoted above.


Also read: Sachin Pilot’s political graph saw a steep rise, before it nosedived between Congress and BJP


 

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