Rajasthan BJP's new prez takes charge, Raje skips event

Rajasthan BJP's new prez takes charge, Raje skips event

Former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje (PTI Photo)

It seems that all is not well in Bharatiya Janta Party in Rajasthan. Former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on Tuesday skipped the recent swearing-in ceremony of newly-appointed state president, Satish Poonia, suggesting a rift within the party. 

Poonia officially took charge at a grand programme organised at the BJP state headquarters in Jaipur on Tuesday. The program was attended by a galaxy of political stalwarts, including union ministers Prakash Javadekar, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Kailash Choudhary, BJP vice-president Om Mathur, leader of Opposition Gulabchand Kataria, MP Rajyawardhan Singh Rathore and Baba Balaknath and hundreds of party workers and legislators.

However, Raje's absence quickly became a talking point among party workers, with some calling it the end of the Raje era while others hoped for her return.

The former chief minister sent a congratulatory letter to Poonia, in which she expressed her inability to attend the programme due to Vijayadashami ceremonies in Dholpur. "You are young, hardworking and honest worker and hence I am confident that you shall come to fulfil expectations of the organisation. I was keen to attend the programme but due to Navratri, I failed to mark my presence."
Rumours of a rift were further fuelled, when Poonia excluded Raje's name from the list of leaders he thanked in his speech. 

After taking the charge, the first assignment for 55-year-old Poonia, will be polls to the two Assembly seats - Khinvsar and Nagaur. Panchayat and local body elections will follow soon after that. Both the seats where by-polls are scheduled are dominated by Jats.

Poonia officially assumed office a month after his name was announced by BJP working president J P Nadda. The post of BJP state president was lying vacant since the death of Madanlal Saini in June this year.