BJP sends a message to Vasundhara Raje, gives 3 ex-CMs a role in Delhi
Ex-chief ministers Vasundhara Raje, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh have been have been appointed national vice president of the BJP, the party has announced.
The BJP on Thursday appointed Vasundhara Raje, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh as the party’s national vice president. The move is seen to be designed to complete the rehabilitation of the two ex-chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and send a clear message to the third, Vasundhara Raje in Rajasthan.
The three ex-chief ministers had lost the three crucial heartland states to the Congress in the recent assembly election.
BJP general secretary Arun Singh said the appointment has been approved by party president Amit Shah.
BJP leaders, who were still emerging from the stunning loss of three states, had earlier indicated that Raman Singh might be the only one of the three who would be asked to take on a national role.
Chhattisgarh, after all, was the only state that the top BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi have counted as an undisputed defeat. The Congress had stormed the state with three-fourth majority in Chhattisgarh’s 90-member assembly, leaving just about 15 seats for the BJP.
Raman Singh had been amenable to the change. He was exiting the state with an unbeaten record of having the longest tenure, 15 years, as chief minister of the state within the BJP. He readily stepped aside.
Lawmaker Dharamlal Kaushik, the party’s state unit chief, was anointed the assembly’s leader of opposition.
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Singh is tipped to contest the next parliamentary election from Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh, which is currently held by his son Abhishek Singh.
In neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan was also persuaded to move out of the state despite his initial assurances to his supporters that he was still in the game and around.
“Tiger abhi zinda hai (The tiger is still alive),” the ex-chief minister had famously told his supporters in an apparent attempt to lift the morale of his supporters in Madhya Pradesh.
Chouhan had positioned himself as ‘Mamaji’; a benevolent, paternal figure looking out for citizens, especially the women and the young. And it had worked. Almost.
The BJP ended up with 109 seats in a state that the party had ruled for 15 years; the Congress had 114 votes in the 230-member assembly. The majority mark was 116.
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Chouhan, however, later ruled himself out of the race for the leader of opposition’s post and veteran legislator Gopal Bhargava was given the leader of opposition’s post in Madhya Pradesh.
Chouhan, too, is seen as a possible candidate from Vidisha Lok Sabha seat in Madhya Pradesh, a constituency currently represented by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. She had announced in November that she will not contest the parliamentary election, but will remain active in politics. She is likely to be accommodated in the Rajya Sabha.
It is Vasundhara Raje whose fate would be sealed by Thursday’s appointments.
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Rajasthan is the only one of the three states where the party has not been able to appoint a leader of opposition, reportedly because Vasundhara Raje had been keen to stay put and play a lead role as the opposition leader.
Raje, who had held her ground in the run up to the state elections in selection of the state party chief, however, will not be left with much of a choice this and will have to cede the leader of opposition post in Rajasthan to someone else, sources said.