The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s Parivartan Yatras, launched from four corners of Rajasthan earlier this month, have entered the final phase before a rally to be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Jaipur on September 25. The first leg of the yatra concluded here on Tuesday with the claimants to the party tickets turning up with a large number of their supporters.
After the yatra’s inauguration in Sawai Madhopur with the obeisance paid at Trinetra Ganesh temple in Ranthambhore Fort, the march traversed through 47 Assembly constituencies in eastern Rajasthan before culminating in Jaipur. The three other places of origin of the yatras were Beneshwar Dham in Dungarpur, Ramdevra in Jaisalmer and Gogamedi temple in Hanumangarh.
Though there were some regions where the yatras received good response from the public, a large portion of the journey remained unimpressive, with a low turnout at the public meetings and lack of enthusiasm visible among the party workers. The yatra’s first leg was welcomed in Jaipur by the ticket seekers who wanted to show their strength.
Several central leaders of the BJP as well as the Chief Ministers of the party-ruled States took part in the yatras and addressed public meetings during the last three weeks. Chief Ministers Pushkar Singh Dhami of Uttarakhand and Hemanta Biswa Sarma of Assam were in Jhalawar and Jodhpur, respectively, on Wednesday, where they targeted the Congress government and called upon the people to vote for BJP in the upcoming Assembly election.
The decision to bring senior leaders from New Delhi and other States to Rajasthan to participate in the Parivartan Yatras marked a departure from the practice of former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje leading such marches during the last four Assembly elections. The then Jhalawar MP, Ms. Raje was introduced as the BJP’s face through a yatra in 2003, when the party formed the government in the State by winning 120 seats.
Ms. Raje, who attended the ongoing yatras at some places during the initial days, has been conspicuous by her absence in the large stretches of the march, giving rise to rumours that she is not satisfied with the lack of importance given to her. Ms. Raje was absent even in her home turf of Jhalawar district, where the yatra wound its way on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Ms. Raje’s absence in Jhalawar, which she has represented for 33 years in various capacities, has fuelled speculations about a rift within the BJP. The party workers tore the posters carrying the pictures of former Dag MLA Ramchandra Sunariwal at the venue in the town and raised slogans against him, alleging that he had ignored people’s issues for long and become active because of the impending election.
Asked about Ms. Raje’s absence, BJP election management committee’s chairperson and former MP Narayan Lal Panchariya said in Jodhpur that that she had “bigger responsibilities” for which she was staying in Delhi. It was not clear if Ms. Raje would be present in Jodhpur, where another leg of the yatra, which started from Ramdevra, will culminate on Thursday.
Ms. Raje’s name has also been also missing from the election-related committees formed by the BJP. Though the senior leaders had claimed that Ms. Raje will be assigned a role “befitting her stature”, her supporters have been left disappointed by the party’s decision not to project her as the Chief Ministerial face. (EOM)