JAIPUR: With the BJP leadership appointing Vasundhara Raje, along with Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh, as the party’s national vice-president, it seems the former Rajasthan chief minister’s grip over the party’s state unit will finally loosen.
For the past one-and-a-half decades, BJP’s politics in the state has revolved around Raje. With her moving into a new role at the Centre, the path is clear for a new leadership to take over in the state.
This also implies that Raje is not in the running for the post of the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly. The contenders for the coveted post now are former Assembly speaker Kailash Meghwal, former panchayati raj minister Rajendra Rathod and former home minister Gulab Chand Kataria.
The name will be decided in Delhi and is expected to be announced at the BJP legislative party meeting in Jaipur in the presence of Union Minister Arun Jaitley on January 13.
Party sources said a young leader could be given the command. Though the BJP lost the Assembly election, it will remain in the role of a strong opposition with 73 MLAs. Therefore, the party will need a leader who can not only keep the Congress government on its feet, but also take along all the party’s legislators.
Known to be an aggressive leader, Raje has not bowed down in front of the formidable Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo, with whom her equations have been far from cosy.
A section within the BJP feels the party leadership believes people’s anger against Raje was the reason for the BJP’s defeat in the Assembly polls and wants to distance her from the state politics so as not to damage its prospects in the Lok Sabha elections.
BJP spokesperson Mukesh Pareek denies that. “This is not the case. All the three losing CMs have been given the responsibility at the centre. Although we lost, there was only a minor difference in our vote percentage and that of the Congress. The decision has been taken keeping the popularity and the support these leaders garner and it will surely help in the Lok Sabha polls.”
Raje, on her part, tweeted, “The BJP central leadership has given me the responsibility as the national vice president and I will fulfill it with complete devotion. A heartfelt gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah for this confidence.”