JAIPUR: Ending its long dilemma over who to make its Rajasthan chief, the BJP High Command named Satish Poonia, the senior MLA from Amer, as the party President for Rajasthan on Saturday.
Considered close to the RSS, Poonia will fill up the post of Rajasthan BJP president which was lying vacant since the death of former state chief Madanlal Saini in June.
A four-time General Secretary of the state unit, Poonia’s choice is dictated by the needs of effective social engineering.
The 55-year old MLA from Amber constituency of Jaipur district, Poonia is a major leader of the influential Jat community, which constitutes one of the biggest vote banks in Rajasthan.
Sources in the BJP say while Punia was a top contender for the post of the state BJP president, the national leadership also considered two other major leaders, namely Rajendra Rathore, the deputy leader of opposition in the state assembly and former Union Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.
Satish Poonia’s appointment is being widely seen as another indication of how much Vasundhara Raje is now being sidelined by the BJP top brass.
Poonia who was also the party's spokesperson in the state is considered close to its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Raje’s rift with the RSS state unit has been well known for years.
Punia is known for his dedication and organisational skills within the party circles and his elevation as state chief also marks a snub to former Union Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.
Dropped from the Modi government in its second term, Rajyavardhan Rathore being cold-shouldered in the state chief race reflects that he is now in the political wilderness.
Known for keeping a low profile, Satish Poonia was tipped to be party top brass choice for weeks. His appointment now is also a vindication of the New Indian Express story on 21st June which had predicted that Poonia would be the next BJP President after the demise of Madan Lal Saini.