Raje’s Role In Gehlot Govt Survival

Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah took control of the government and the party, most Bharatiya Janata Party leaders have been reduced to pygmies. But recent developments in Rajasthan have shown that senior party leader Vasundhara Raje is no push-over and that she is unafraid to take on the Central leadership.

The two-time Rajasthan chief minister steadfastly refused to endorse the party’s decision to dislodge the Ashok Gehlot government, forcing the saffron camp to abandon this plan. As a result, the Gehlot sailed through a trust vote last week after the BJP-supported rebellion by disgruntled Congress leader Sachin Pilot failed to take-off because of Raje’s non-cooperation.

Raje proved that despite her electoral defeat two years ago and the party’s best efforts to marginalise her, the Central leadership can ill-afford to ignore her as she commands the loyalty of 50 of the 72 BJP legislators.

Moreover, Raje’s charisma and appeal put her on top of the list of vote catchers in Rajasthan where she remains a dominant force. Raje has the capacity to lead the BJP to a victory in the next election. But conversely, she can also play spoiler and give the party a tough time.

Irked by Raje’s obduracy and desperate to put her in place, the BJP’s Central leadership (read Amit Shah) proceeded to go ahead with its plan to overthrow the Congress government in Rajasthan without taking the former chief minister into confidence. The task of implementing these plans was entrusted to Union Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat (a Shah favourite), Satish Poonia, president of the party’s Rajasthan unit, and BJP’s legislature party leader Gulab Chand Kataria.

The pride of place given to Shekhawat was a clear message to the party rank and file that he was the leadership’s chief ministerial candidate once the party succeeded in dethroning the Gehlot government.

ALSO READ: No Dearth Of Dynasts In BJP

But the BJP soon realised that it needed Raje on board but she refused to fall in line. On her part, the former chief minister had her reasons for thwarting the party’s plans. Not willing to settle for anything less than the top post, Raje was clearly angry with her bete noire Shekhawat’s projection as the future Rajasthan chief minister. Raje was obviously was not going to make it easy for anyone else to snatch this post from her. It was the same reason that she was unhappy over Pilot’s possible induction into the BJP as he has also set his eyes on the chief minister’s chair.

Though the BJP consistently denied that the revolt led by Sachin Pilot was an internal affair of the Congress, the saffron camp had been in touch with him for several months before he finally walked out with 19 loyal legislators to demand Gehlot’s removal. The rebels were spirited away to a resort in BJP-ruled Haryana. In fact, the “operation kamal”, designed on the same lines as similar successful exercises it executed in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.

For the record, Pilot maintained that he had been humiliated by Gehlot for the past two years and that he was driven to take the extreme step of going public with his grievances after he was sent a notice by the police in connection with the BJP’s plan to “bribe” Congress legislators.

Responding in equal measure, Gehlot collected his loyalist MLAs and sequestered them in a hotel in Jaipur, making sure there was no contact between them and the Pilot camp or the BJP. Gehlot guarded his flock zealously, making sure that the numbers in the rebel camp did not touch the magic figure of 30, the required figure to bring down his government. The chief minister maintained he had the support of 100-plus legislators in the 200-member assembly and accused the BJP of using “money power” to destabilise his government.

ALSO READ: Cong In No Hurry To Get Its House In Order

Even as this drama continued for nearly a month, Raje maintained a studied silence. Her colleagues, Shekhawat, Poonia and Kataria, on the other hand, were never at a loss to offer their comments on the Congress crisis. It was only when her silence and absence became a talking point that Raje posted one wishy-washy tweet, saying the people of Rajasthan were suffering because of the continuing rift within the ruling Congress.

In a tweet posted on July 18, Raje said, “There is no point in trying to drag the BJP and the BJP leaders’ names through the mud. It is the interest of our people that must remain paramount.” This was meant essentially to dispel the public perception that she was helping Gehlot.

Raje was only spotted in Jaipur on August 14 when she attended the assembly session where Gehlot won the trust vote. She later told the media that she was unaware of the past month’s developments as she was observing shravan mass, the holy month of monsoon, and was busy with pujas at her Dholpur home. She had earlier skipped a party meeting, which had to be called off because of her absence.

She did surface briefly in Delhi on August 7 for a meeting with BJP president JP Nadda where she refused to get involved in the party’s efforts to bring down the Gehlot government. Instead she complained that she was being ignored and deliberately sidelined in Rajasthan. The recently reconstituted executive committee of the state unit has not accommodated her supporters while the state unit chief Poonia and opposition leader Kataria are known to be Raje baiters.

Unable to persuade her to fall in line with its plans and unwilling to risk alienating Raje, the BJP had no option but to call off “operation kamal” in Rajasthan. This was a major victory for Raje though it is early days to say what the future holds for her as the current BJP leadership is unlikely to forget her intransigence in a hurry.

Till then Raje can enjoy this victory as she has clearly won this round and is worthy of being declared the “man of the match”.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By agreeing you accept the use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.

Privacy Settings saved!
Privacy Settings

When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. Control your personal Cookie Services here.

These cookies are essential in order to enable you to move around the website and use its features. Without these cookies basic services cannot be provided.

Cookie generated by applications based on the PHP language. This is a general purpose identifier used to maintain user session variables. It is normally a random generated number, how it is used can be specific to the site, but a good example is maintaining a logged-in status for a user between pages.

Used on sites built with Wordpress. Tests whether or not the browser has cookies enabled
  • wordpress_test_cookie

In order to use this website we use the following technically required cookies
  • wordpress_test_cookie
  • wordpress_logged_in_
  • wordpress_sec

Decline all Services
Accept all Services
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x