Power tussle in Rajasthan BJP persists, Cong rubs it in

Power tussle in Rajasthan BJP continues, Congress rubs it in

Congress leader Govind Singh Dotasra claimed that Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat will be the BJP's CM face for 2023 polls, not Vasundhara Raje

Sources have indicated a power tussle between former CM Vasundhara Raje (Left) and BJP's state president Satish Poonia (Right). Credit: PTI Photo

Congress on Monday tried to fish in the troubled waters of BJP's Rajasthan unit, seeking to widen the gap between the supporters of former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and those opposing a bigger role for her within the saffron party.

A day after Amit Shah's back-to-back poll meetings in Jaipur to kick off Mission 2023 for the state polls indicated further sidelining of Raje, Congress leader Govind Singh Dotasra claimed that Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat will be the BJP's chief ministerial face in the 2023 Rajasthan assembly polls.

The rivalry between Shekhawat and Raje rivalry is well established, as she had effectively stalled him from being named as PCC chief two years ago despite the former having Amit Shah's backing.

Dotasra said that Barmer MP Kailash Chaudhary, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Gulab Chand Kataria and BJP state president Satish Poonia were not given a chance to address the public, indicating that "Gajendra Singh ji will be the face for chief minister in Rajasthan in times to come".

Also Read — Congress always in fear that Rajasthan government will collapse, says Amit Shah

A day after Shah's meetings, supporters and detractors of Raje took to social media and ran hashtags in favour and opposition to her 

In his meeting, Shah had addressed Shekhawat as "our Union Minister who has the responsibility to reach water to each household in the country". He also flagged how Rajasthan, which had ensured BJP won all 25 Lok Sabha seats in 2014. repeated a similar performance for the party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with 23 Lok Sabha seats in 2019. 

Just a year ago, the party, led by CM Raje, had lost the Rajasthan Assembly polls.

Shah's pitch for "collective leadership" to take on the Congress in 2023 state polls was interpreted as an indication that the BJP will not depend on former CM Vasundhra Raje in the 2023 polls.

While Raje has already started poll preparations on her own, there is an intense power tussle between her and the current state unit, headed by Satish Poonia.

Rajasthan, which had mostly behaved like a switch state alternating power between Congress and BJP, voted out the Raje-led BJP government in 2018 but the BJP failed to capitalise on the Ashok Gehlot-Sachin Pilot situation and lost badly in the Assembly by-polls months ago.

Dotasra claimed that while Shah did not take the name of Poonia during his rally, Leader of Opposition Kataria was not given a chance to address the rally.

Shah has on his sleeves the challenge of winning the state polls in 2023, with the backdrop of a poor relationship between Raje and central leadership.

For more than two decades, the chief minister's chair in Rajasthan has alternated between Gehlot of Congress and Raje of BJP. Raje had first become CM in 2003, replacing Gehlot.

Addressing the BJP state executive meeting, Shah's remarks that the Assembly polls in the state will be fought under Modi's leadership was considered a message to Raje. In Uttarakhand, which goes to polls in March next year, BJP is already banking heavily on Modi's persona, having changed the chief minister thrice in a year.

Also Read — Gajendra Singh Shekhawat to be BJP's chief ministerial face in Rajasthan assembly polls: Dotasra

The central leadership of BJP does not seem inclined to project a CM face for the Rajasthan polls yet, even as Raje had tried to signal her willingness during the Dev Darshan Yatra in November. The Yatra was seen in party circles as Raje's show of strength.

In June, when BJP posters in Rajasthan were found not carrying Raje's face, the former CM said she wants to rule in the hearts of people rather than in posters. During the same time, when an outfit named Vasundhra Raje Samarthak Manch Rajasthan was launched, the party's state unit accused her of running a parallel system. Raje had also stopped attending party meetings in Rajasthan briefly then. 

Among the leaders who seem to be in the race, Shekhawat is the frontrunner with Arjun Ram Meghwal, Satish Poonia and Gulab Chand Kataria. Even names of Union Minister Bhupendra Yadav, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from the state and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla are doing the rounds.

Watch the latest DH Videos here: