Infighting in BJP Rajasthan unit worries central brass

The fissures within the BJP Rajasthan unit have been a matter of concern for the party’s central leadership for the past several months and undercurrents of the issue were at play during the recent national office-bearers’ meeting held in the state last week.

BJP opted to hold its office-bearers’ meeting in Rajasthan instead of Gujarat or Himachal Pradesh, which go to polls in December this year, due to many reasons. Congress had held its Chintan Shivir in Udaipur just two days before the BJP conclave and the saffron party wanted to overshadow the event that gave chief minister Ashok Gehlot and the ruling party a lot of traction.Infighting within the BJP is said to be another key factor and holding the conclave in Jaipur was aimed at creating another opportunity to deal with the rift. As part of these efforts, President JP Nadda made three visits to the state in the last few weeks. He was on a two-day tour to Ganganagar and Hanumangarh in Rajasthan on May 10-11, before attending the three-day office-bearers’ meeting from May 19-21.

Nadda had held a meeting with senior BJP leaders from Rajasthan — former chief minister Vasundhara Raje, state unit chief Satish Poonia and Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Shekhawat — in Delhi on April 19.

The differences in the BJP Rajasthan unit can become a hurdle for the party in the 2023 assembly polls. Raje, Poonia, Shekhawat and former home minister Gulab Chand Kataria are said to be contenders for the CM’s post.

Raje is back in action and was in the forefront at the BJP conclave. While she had kept aloof from the developments that took place when the then Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot rebelled against CM Ashok Gehlot and the BJP allegedly egged on the former to topple the government. Raje stayed put in Jodhpur though senior state unit leaders claimed she was kept in the loop about the discussions in the party meetings on the developments.Raje, who is a national vice-president, was present alongside BJP Chief JP Nadda at all events that took place during the three-day conclave in Jaipur from May 19-21.The only BJP leader having a pan-Rajasthan following, Raje is set to play an important role in the party campaign during the run-up to the assembly polls due next year. The buzz about her return to active duty almost four years after BJP lost the last state elections in 2018 started when she attended the swearing-in ceremony in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. Raje also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Parliament House during the budget session.

Rajasthan is known to vote out the incumbent and this has given BJP hopes of returning to power in 2023. It had won all 25 Lok Sabha seats of the state in 2014 and 2019. There was significant resentment against Raje during the 2018 state elections, but the situation seems to have improved since then.In the past, Raje has scuttled attempts by the BJP central leadership to appoint leaders of its choice in key posts in the state. Her inactivism or opposition in the next election can harm the party.

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