Vasundhara Raje was elected unopposed as the leader of the BJP Legislature Party on Saturday, which will pave the way for her reinstatement as leader of Opposition in Rajasthan after a year.
Raje’s election was announced by senior leader Venkaiah Naidu after her name was proposed by MLA Nand Lal Meena and approved by the rest of the legislators at a meeting of MLAs in Jaipur. Her name will now be forwarded to Speaker DS Shekhawat who will formally announce her as leader of Opposition in the assembly.
Though the development was seen as sudden, Raje’s return was in the pipeline after chief Nitin Gadkari consulted other BJP leaders who concluded she was the “right hand” to prepare the party for the 2013 assembly polls as things had not gone too well for Congress chief minister Ashok Gehlot.
Soon after her election, Raje said she would fulfill the responsibility with the “support of all”.
Last year, after much persuasion, Raje had quit as leader of Opposition to join Gadkari’s team as BJP general secretary. She had dodged former party chief Rajnath Singh’s fiat to quit for six months, claiming she had the backing of a majority of BJP MLAs. Her continuation in the post had become a prestige battle between her and Rajnath, who wanted the high command’s writ to be upheld.
Raje was blamed, along with others, for severe infighting that saw the BJP lose the assembly polls in 2008 and a number of Lok Sabha seats in 2009.
However, when Gadkari enrolled her into his team, he promised to send her back at the “right time”, accepting her stand that she still commanded good support in the state.
At the announcement Opposition deputy leader Ghanshyam Tiwari and senior leader Gulab Chand Kataria were absent. Tiwari — who had been handling proceedings in the House since Raje had been removed — was hopeful of becoming the leader of Opposition. Kataria, a key RSS man, too was a strong contender for the post.
“We are united and strong this time to win the elections unlike in 2008, which we lost due to shortcomings,” Naidu said.