Om Birla's elevation to Lok Sabha speaker changes power dynamics in Rajasthan BJP

Last 15 years of BJP politics has revolved around Vasundhara Raje but this move is seen as one which has bolstered the anti-Raje camp.

Published: 20th June 2019 12:29 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th June 2019 12:29 AM   |  A+A-

Newly-elected Speaker for the 17th Lok Sabha Om Birla conducts the proceedings during its first session at Parliament in New Delhi Wednesday June 19 2019. | (LSTV Screengrab)

Express News Service

KOTA: Bundi MP, Om Birla's elevation to the Lok Sabha speaker's post and three Ministers have made Rajasthan the new power Centre in the Modi government.

With the decision, Modi- Shah duo has also given indications of change in power dynamics in the state.

Last 15 years of BJP politics has revolved around Vasundhara Raje but this move is seen as one which has bolstered the anti-Raje camp.

Earlier in Vajpayee Government when Jaswant Singh held Defence, Finance and Foreign ministries, Vasundhara Raje was earlier a Central Minister that time. Rajasthan's former Chief Minister Bhairon Singh Shekhawat was made the Vice President and thus Vasundhara got a chance to be the chief minister of Rajasthan for the first time.

Om Birla was an MLA in the previous two Vasundhara Raje governments. But sources say that he had his share of differences with Raje and so he was never made a Minister. In 2013 Om Birla resigned from his MLA post and fought the Lok Sabha elections after which he became close to the central leaders.

This time a big section within the party tried to prevent him from getting a ticket but he not only was given a ticket but also won by a handsome margin.

But now with Modi-Shah's rule, the anti-Raje camp has been getting more importance. 

Before this, Hanuman Beniwal who is also anti-Raje had formed an alliance with his newly formed party RLP along with BJP. He then fought the Loksabha elections as well. In Modi's second innings at the centre, people close to Sangh have been given bigger roles to play in the Government.

Jodhpur MP Gajendra Singh Shekhawat was made the cabinet minister and given the important portfolio of Jal Shakti Ministery and now Om Birla has been made the LS speaker. Both of them are known to be from the anti-Raje camp.

Vasundhara Raje after her loss in the Vidhansabha elections was made the National Vice President of BJP. This was done so that she could be pushed away from active state politics. But Raje has still been able to campaign actively and stay relevant in the state. During Lok Sabha campaign she had said that she will never leave the state and go anywhere else.

But the situation has changed dramatically after the BJP loss in Rajasthan in the assembly polls. Tickets for the Lok Sabha election were given to the anti-Raje camp and the reins of the campaign was also held by BJP high command.

Hanuman Beniwal, Diya Kumari, Kailash Choudhary, Om Birla , Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore fought the election. 

"Party has been waiting for the right time it can bring in new leadership but Vasundhara Raje is still trying to assert herself and keep herself active in the state. She was very apart of the meeting on Sunday a of the BJP state unit where were it was decided that the party will continue to oppose Gehlot government strongly on its policies", said Narayan Bareth, Political analyst.

By making three ministers from the state and now Om Birla as the Lok Sabha speaker BJP has also targeted the caste permutations in the state. Om Birla hills from vaishya community Gajendra Singh Shekhawat hails from the Rajput community both of these communities are considered BJP' traditional vote bank.

Kailash Chaudhary who is the Agriculture Minister of State is also from the Jat community whereas Arjun Meghwal hails from Dalit community, which BJP is trying to appease. 

Now it remains to be seen how Vasundhara Raje handles this new move by BJP high command. Between 2013 to 2018, there were clear differences visible to everyone between Modi Government at the centre and Rajasthan government. Vasundhara Raje ruled on her own terms and kept a distance from the 'Delhi darbar'. Raje was able to save her chair in the entire Lalit Modi fiasco, where he fled the country.

Another thing that worked in Raje's favour was that BJP had returned to power in Rajasthan with 163 seats and most of the MLAs were Raje loyalists. But later on in 2018, BJP lost 2  Lok Sabha and 1 Vidhansabha seats in the by-polls and Raje's close aide, Ashok Parnami had to step down from the party President's post.

At the time Amit Shah wanted Gajendra Singh Shekhawat to be made the new President but Vasundhara rejected the idea as she felt that it would upset the Jat community. After a delay of 72 days, Amit Shah had to take a step back and agree with making Madan Lal Saini as the new Rajasthan BJP President. Even before the recent Vidhansabha elections, Amit Shah wanted to cut the tickets of the sitting MLAs. But finally Vasundhara Raje had her way and got tickets for the people she wanted to.  

Sharp reactions have come from within BJP after this decision.

"The message is clear, state BJP has changed with time and now Raje has been neutralised. Earlier Raje was the only one, now she is one amongst all", said a senior party leader on the condition of anonymity.

"Party lost in vidhansabha election but won all 25 seats in Loksabha within 6 months. There was resentment against Raje government which was the reason why part lost state elections. Raje's return is difficult now" said another party leader.

Now now the buzz in the political circles is about the president's post in the state. Political experts believe that the one who will be made the state party president might also be the future chief ministerial candidate.

Rajyavardhan Rathore's name is doing the rounds especially after he was not given the cabinet Minister's post in the new government. But some people believe that in a surprise move, a new face with a low profile can also be given a chance by Modi-Shah duo.  

"Om Birla being made the Lok Sabha speaker has made Rajasthan proud and now he will further make a big name of the state by his demeanour in the parliament. I also congratulate the Prime Minister and National President", reacted Vasundhara Raje while talking to media in Alwar on Tuesday.

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