JAIPUR: The former chief minister of Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje’s meeting with the top leadership of the BJP in Delhi has caused ripples in the political circles in the desert state. It is not only the state leadership of the BJP but the Congress too, which is keeping a close watch on the development.

By Anil Sharma

In the last few days, Raje has met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and other leaders, and also the national president of the BJP J P Nadda. Assembly elections are due in the state at the end of 2023, and it seems preparations have already started at least by the BJP. This is in consideration of the defeat in the 2018 assembly polls and it seems the party does not want to take any chances this time around.

And who can be a better bet than the former CM and presently vice president of the BJP Vasundhara Raje to lead the party, which right now is passing through factionalism, dissension, and groupism? Without a doubt, Raje who has been the chief minister of the state two times is the most popular, charismatic, and mass leader in the BJP in the state, and no one as of now comes even a bit closer to her stature.

Her popularity can be gauged from the fact that on her birthday on March 8, in the small town of Keshoraipatan, around 225 km from the state capital Jaipur, thousands of her supporters gathered to wish her on her 69th birthday. The otherwise sleepy town saw traffic jams and the sound of shouting slogans in support of the BJP and Raje. 

Some may call it a show of strength by Raje, it was her charisma and mass appeal that made her birthday function a grand success.

It should not be forgotten that of the BJP’s 71 MLAs in the state assembly, around 35-38 MLAs which is over 50 percent attended the event. And for going to the event they even skipped the legislature meeting in Jaipur on March 8. Besides this, around 11 of the present BJP MPs from the state and hundreds of ex-MLAs and MPs were part of Raje’s birthday celebration.

Earlier in November last year, Rajasthan’s former chief minister Vasundhara Raje undertook five days of “Dev Darshan Yatra” covering Mewar and Ajmer divisions and at that time the sort of response she got was unbelievable.

Thousands waited for hours to get a glimpse of the leader in each place she visited, and there was a long queue of people wanting to meet her personally. It took hours for her convoy to move even a kilometer.

Vasundhara Raje has once again proved that she is the “only leader” in the BJP who despite not being in power since the end of 2018 still commands huge popularity and mass appeal.

It looks like party leadership in Delhi has started to understand the importance of Raje, but they should and need to understand quickly that the time has come to give more power and freedom to the former chief minister Raje in the decision making process in Rajasthan as she understands the state politics inside out. Her advice should be taken seriously if BJP is to be strengthened in the state.

The ruling Congress is worried too as some of the leaders in the party on condition not to be named said that in case Raje, who according to them commands respect cutting across party lines and is a charismatic leader, is given the leadership in Rajasthan by the BJP, it would make contest tough for the party (Congress) in assembly polls to be held likely in November/December 2023.