With Vasundhra Raje in a corner, RSS has a new plan for Rajasthan

Dev Ankur Wadhawan
Dev Ankur WadhawanMar 21, 2018 | 14:28

With Vasundhra Raje in a corner, RSS has a new plan for Rajasthan

The BJP in Rajasthan having lost three crucial by-polls held in January this year, including for two Lok Sabha seats of Alwar and Ajmer, is in a tight corner but not willing to give up the fight just yet.

Chief minister Vasundhara Raje, in the final year of her current term in office, is definitely down, if not completely out in the run-up to the Assembly elections. The magnitude of the by-poll losses can be gauged from the fact that the Ajmer and Alwar Lok Sabha seats have eight Vidhan Sabha segments each, and along with Mandalgarh Assembly seat, make for 17 out of 200 Assembly seats in Rajasthan. All these three seats earlier were with the BJP. On Alwar Lok Sabha seat, the BJP candidate lost by a whopping margin of more than 1.90 lakh votes. The BJP had won this seat by close to 2.84 lakh votes during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.


Image: PTI photo

During the 2013 Assembly polls, riding on the Modi wave which swept across the western state of Rajasthan, Raje attained power in the desert state with more than a whopping 160 seats in an Assembly of 200. And then, during the Lok Sabha polls in the following year, with the mood against the incumbent Congress and in favour of the BJP spearheaded by an aggressively upbeat Modi, the party swept the state by bagging all 25 seats.

The surge was so strong that the Barmer-Jaisalmer seat saw former BJP leader and finance minister Jaswant Singh, who was contesting as an Independent after being denied a party ticket, losing to Colonel (retd) Sonaram Chaudhary, considered a turncoat who had joined the BJP after leaving the Congress just before the elections.

Cut to 2018. The marginalisation of Raje in the run-up to the Assembly polls, from selection of candidates to organisational changes, can be gradual but obvious, to contain the damage that has already been done.

With hardly much time left for the elections, the party is looking at the prospect of making some key changes in Rajasthan, including the reshuffling of key ministries, the possibility of appointing a deputy chief minister considered close to the Sangh and ensuring that the party's outreach programme gains impetus.


With the Assembly polls inching closer, the party has decided to send its cabinet ministers in the state, apart from the likes of senior functionaries including Bhupendra Yadav and Avinash Rai Khanna, across different districts to gauge people’s mood and contain the anti-Raje sentiments currently prevailing across various parts.

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu district on March 8, several female contractual workers, allegedly forced to work at a measly salary of Rs 5,000 for almost a decade now, were seen shouting anti-Raje slogans in the presence of the prime minister. Some of those workers even showed black flags and shouted "Raje go back", much to the chagrin of the BJP leaders present there.

The farmers, not getting the minimum support price (MSP) for their crops for a long time, have their own set of grouses with the sitting chief minister. A subdued Raje was seen on stage along with the prime minister for the expansion of the "Beti Padhao Beti Bachao" scheme.

With rumours doing the rounds about the current chief minister's unpopularity within the Sangh circles as well as the BJP high command, her role may become more marginalised and that of the RSS more evident in the run-up to the elections in the state.


From ticket distribution to campaigning, the "queen" may get increasingly sidelined as the BJP high command would want to take some tough decisions to put up a stiff fight against a resurgent Congress in Rajasthan.

Last updated: March 22, 2018 | 13:50
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