Saturday, April 13, 2024

The Political Chessboard in Rajasthan: Vasundhara Raje Story

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As the dust settles on the Rajasthan assembly elections, one question looms large over the state’s political landscape – will Vasundhara Raje, the seasoned leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, return for a third term as Chief Minister? The election trends clearly favor the BJP, and Raje’s influence within the party adds a layer of intrigue to the post-election scenario.

Raje’s Campaign and Political Influence:

In the lead-up to the election results, Vasundhara Raje, a two-time Chief Minister and current BJP national vice president, embarked on a pilgrimage of sorts, visiting various temples in the state. This strategic move was not merely a spiritual journey but a calculated effort to connect with the voters, especially in a state where cultural and religious sentiments often play a significant role in politics.

Notably, the BJP chose not to project any Chief Ministerial candidate during its campaign, leaving Raje in the background. This move sparked speculation about the party’s internal dynamics and the leadership’s strategy.

Raje’s Stature

Vasundhara Raje has led the BJP to resounding victories in 2003 and 2013, securing 163 seats in the 200-member Assembly during the latter.

Despite facing challenges to her supremacy within the BJP in recent years, Raje has maintained a firm grip on the state unit. Loyalists within the party consistently advocate for her to be the face of the BJP in Rajasthan.

The Current Challenge:

As the election results point towards a favorable outcome for the BJP, Vasundhara Raje eyes the Chief Minister’s chair for the third time. However, she faces stiff competition from within the party. State party chief Satish Poonia and Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat are among the contenders vying for the coveted position.

Raje’s Political Evolution:

Considered a “moderate” BJP leader, Vasundhara Raje gained prominence during the era of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and ex-Deputy PM L K Advani. Her earlier campaigns focused on developmental agendas, steering clear of the Hindutva plank. However, recent times have witnessed a shift in her stance, aligning more with the party’s hardline positioning. In the current election, she accused the Gehlot government of practicing “appeasement politics.”

Vasundhara Raje’s political journey in Rajasthan is at a crucial juncture. The BJP’s success in the elections does not open up the possibility of Raje’s return as Chief Minister with the internal dynamics of the party.

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