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Infighting in Rajasthan BJP continues despite Shah’s visit

A united front: Union Home Minister Amit Shah with other party leaders from Rajasthan in Jaipur.  

Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s emphasis on collective leadership and his reluctance to project anyone as the chief ministerial face for the 2023 Assembly election during his recent visit to Rajasthan is unlikely to end infighting in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s State unit. The power tussle among the rival factions is set to continue despite the attempts to reunite them.

Mr. Shah visited Jaipur for a day on Sunday to address a ‘Jan Pratinidhi Sankalp Sammelan’ and a closed-door BJP working committee meeting after attending a function associated with the Border Security Force in Jaisalmer. This was his first visit to the State after the BJP was voted out of power in 2018.

Two-third majority

Amid the deepening divide between the supporters of former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and those opposing a bigger role for her within the party, Mr. Shah exuded confidence that the BJP would win the 2023 election with two-third majority. He declared that the party would contest the Assembly poll under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The faction led by BJP State president Satish Poonia, expecting Mr. Shah to pass some remarks on Ms. Raje’s recent tour to southern Rajasthan apparently to assert her dominance in the party, was left disappointed. On the contrary, Mr. Shah described Ms. Raje as a ‘yashaswi’ (illustrious) former Chief Minister in one of his speeches.

The BJP workers in the State are a demoralised lot after the rout faced by the party in the recent Assembly by-elections at Udaipur division’s Dhariawad and Vallabhnagar seats. Ms. Raje, who did not join the election campaign despite being named as one of the star campaigners, later went on a yatra to the same region to pay obeisance at some prominent temples and meet the families of the departed party leaders.

Dismisses accusations

Mr. Shah dismissed accusations that the BJP had tried to topple the Congress Government in the State last year and dared the ruling party to hold early elections to confirm if it enjoyed people’s support. He also ensured the presence of all senior leaders with him on the dais in an attempt to depict unity in the party.

Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who represents the Jodhpur constituency in the Lok Sabha, accompanying Mr. Shah in both Jaisalmer and Jaipur, was also seen as the latter’s attempt to send across a political message. Ms. Raje had effectively stalled Mr. Shekhawat from being appointed the State party chief in 2018 despite him having Mr. Shah’s backing. Mr. Shah later appointed Madan Lal Saini as a compromise candidate.

Cong. ridicules attempts

Pradesh Congress Committee president Govind Singh Dotasra ridiculed the BJP’s attempts to show unity when it was clear that each of the senior leaders had “high ambitions”. Mr. Dotasra said the way the Home Minister has accorded importance to Mr. Shekhawat and ignored others had indicated that he would be the face for the Chief Minister in the run-up to the election.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot also took exception to some of Mr. Shah’s remarks about the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the State. He said Mr. Shah’s charge that the State Government had not provided sufficient relief to the people was wrong, as special packages had been released and financial assistance provided to different sections in addition to making “outstanding arrangements” for treatment of infected persons.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 1:22:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/infighting-in-rajasthan-bjp-continues-despite-shahs-visit/article37890850.ece

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