Raje stares down detractors in a show of strength, resists change in state BJP leadership  | jaipur | Hindustan Times
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Raje stares down detractors in a show of strength, resists change in state BJP leadership 

There is a sudden rush among different communities to felicitate chief minister Vasundhara Raje

jaipur Updated: Mar 26, 2018 22:39 IST
Manoj Ahuja
Manoj Ahuja
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Valmiki community members felicitate CM Vasundhara Raje, in Jaipur.
Valmiki community members felicitate CM Vasundhara Raje, in Jaipur.(HT File)

There is a sudden rush among different communities to felicitate chief minister Vasundhara Raje.From Valmiki samaj and Mali samaj, to Meena community, tribals and the farmers, they have all organised functions to felicitate Raje.

While the ostensible reason for such events, as cited by the community leaders, was to show their gratitude for the welfare schemes announced during the state budget, sources say it was an apparent show of strength by the beleaguered chief minister who wanted to send a signal to her detractors both in Rajasthan and Delhi.

After BJP suffered a rout in the bypolls to two Lok Sabha and one assembly seats, talks of reshuffle in state organization and cabinet had gained ground. Rajasthan goes to polls later this year.

Amid such demands being made, Raje has held a series of meetings with state ministers and other BJP leaders close to her since the bypoll defeat. Sources said she has been firmly opposed to any change in state BJP leadership as she shares cordial relations with the current Rajasthan BJP president Ashok Parnami. She is also not too enthused about the idea of appointing a deputy chief minister floated by certain leaders.

Raje followed up a populist budget on February 12 with some further concessions to different sections of the society during her reply to the Appropriation Bill on March 6. Since then, she has met party office-bearers from different districts to understand the impact of the announcement and take feedback on the government functioning. She has also been meeting saints and religious leaders to seek their blessings. Raje also plans to launch a Vikas Yatra from tribal-dominated Udaipur on April 15 during which she will visit all the 200 Assembly constituencies.

While there are rumours about an imminent cabinet reshuffle after Navratras, state BJP leaders are non-committal. “Such things happen in politics. I will not be able to comment,” Parnami said. Asked whether he will continue as state BJP president, Parnami said, “Hum party ke sipahi hain (I am party’s soldier). I will take up any assignment given by the party.” On people from different communities felicitating the chief minister, Parnami said they were expressing their gratitude following welfare schemes announced during the budget.

“The BJP government has constituted Keshkala Board for welfare of barbers. This has happened for the first time in 70 years due to efforts of the chief minister. Then she has waived off the interest on loan of Rs 2 lakh as announced for the barbers in the budget. Another announcement has been about setting up of Sainji Maharaj panorama center in Pushkar,” Mohan Morwal, a prominent leader of Sain Samaj and president of Keshkala Board, said. He along with other members of the community had felicitated Raje earlier this month.

The BJP is also making efforts to bring disgruntled leaders back to the party fold. The return of five-term MLA and two-time MP Kirolilal Meena has come as a booster shot for the party. Sources said attempts are being made to pacify rebel BJP MLA Ghanshyam Tiwari, a vocal critic of Raje, and appease other disgruntled MLAs too.

While talks of cabinet reshuffle refuse to die down, senior leaders of the party are touring different districts to take stock of problems plaguing the state. The aim is to work on booth management, and make people aware about the schemes launched by the state government.

A core group of BJP leaders who had analysed the party’s poor performance in the byelections had cited unfavourable caste equations, rural distress and some decisions outside state’s control such as GST for the defeat.

While the party lost the Ajmer and Alwar parliamentary seats and Mandalgarh assembly seats in the bypolls, a party member from Kota wrote to party chief Amit Shah requesting him to change the state leadership - a demand also expressed by Ramgarh (Alwar) legislator Gyan Dev Ahuja.