NEW DELHI: Emboldened by a better Panchayat election verdict, Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje appears dropping anchor to resist BJP chief Amit Shah imposing his choice of Union minister Gajendra Shekhawat as state unit party chief. After an inconclusive meeting with Shah on Wednesday, Raje is learnt to have reached out to senior party leaders in an attempt to impress upon them that the state unit not be disturbed by imposing someone who is being opposed by most of the MLAs.
The chief minister, who is learnt to be holding out in the national capital, has met Union Minister for Home Affairs Rajnath Singh, who is known in the party circle for advocating consensus in events of division of opinions on an issue. Sources said that Raje also reached out to the BJP vice president Om Mathur, who is seen as a rival of the chief minister, with plea that the state unit has to gear up for a stiff electoral challenge in a few months, while the state of confusion over the name of the next party chief in Rajsthan is affecting the morale of the party workers. Mathur, sources said, has conveyed to the chief minister that he’s not interested in the affairs of state politics being in-charge for Uttar Pradesh.
Raje got a shot in arm after the BJP bagged 13 of the 27 Panchayat seats on Thursday. “Raje has also sought an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She’s keen to impress upon the Prime Minister that there be no division in the ranks of the party on the issue of choosing the state unit chief. A number of state ministers are also camping in the national capital, who on their own, are meeting senior party leaders,” sources added.
Incidentally, party insiders claimed that the issue of choosing the next BJP chief for Rajasthan has become a battle of wits between Shah and Raje, with both determined not to yield space. Supporters of the chief minister claim that Shekhawat being a Rajput as the state unit party chief would affect party’s core constituency of Jats, and, therefore, he shouldn’t be named for the post.
However, the BJP chief is keen to take command of the campaign in Rajasthan, with sources close to him saying that the state poll outcome would set the tone for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. “In the wake of the routing in the Ajmer and Alwar Lok Sabha bypoll by big margins, the BJP chief doesn’t want to leave the command of the state elections on the chief minister alone,” said a senior BJP functionary.