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Rajasthan BJP gears up for Amit Shah’s visit

Home Minister Amit Shah’s scheduled visit to Rajasthan over the weekend is being highly anticipated by the State unit of the BJP, as it comes after bypoll losses and a solo yatra by former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. The yatra was seen as an intensification of the face off between her and State BJP chief Satish Poonia.

Mr. Shah will be in Jaisalmer for a function associated with the Border Security Force but then will proceed to Jaipur for the more political part of his tour — an address to the working committee of the State unit and a public rally “Panchayat to Parliament” involving local body representatives from nearby panchayats, urban local bodies and cooperative societies as well. Accompanying him from Delhi will be the man Mr. Shah had hand-picked to be the State unit chief in 2018 — Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.

State BJP sources said Mr. Shah would certainly be apprised of the problems within the unit. Ms. Raje’s strong-showing in her yatra in the last week of November, where she visited bereaved families of COVID-19 victims and also temples along the way, as well as popping up of posters on the route of her yatra, stating “Poonia bhagao, bhajapaa bachao” (get rid of Poonia, save the BJP) has brought matters to a head.

“The State unit is divided, there is factionalism, Vasundhara Raje still commands great swathes of support, of which the Delhi high command is also wary of,” said a source. In the face off in 2018, Ms. Raje had refused to accept Mr. Shekhawat as State unit chief, and Mr. Shah appointed Madan Lal Saini as a compromise candidate. The current State chief, Satish Poonia, though has the backing of the party high command at the Centre, had several run-ins with Raje loyalists. Mr. Shah’s visit may help him rally the troops.

“This is a simple fight between a charismatic leader with long held loyalists, and a State unit that is part of the larger organisational structure of the BJP, where the leadership of the high command holds sway as it does in the rest of the country,” said a source.

Plainly put, Ms. Raje has been proceeding on her own political activities including keeping away from campaigning for the party in any of the eight bypolls held since the BJP lost power in 2018. Of these eight seats, BJP has won only one seat on its own, whereas, the party and its allies had held five out of these eight seats preceding the bypolls. A way in which to assert her hold on the political pulse of the State.

It is hoped that Mr. Shah’s visit, his first after the BJP lost power in the State in 2018, will provide some way forward from the factionalism.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 4:03:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/rajasthan-bjp-gears-up-for-amit-shahs-visit/article37831500.ece

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