The recently announced executive committee of the BJP in Rajasthan includes not only loyalists of former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje but also her detractors, thus reflecting the growing clout of the central leadership in the party’s state unit, sources said.
Speaking about the appointments, which were made on Saturday, senior BJP leaders in Rajasthan said that important posts were given to loyalists of Raje as well as to other leaders who are known to have a strained relationship with her and who were sidelined during her tenure.
Party leaders said that the appointment of MLA Madan Dilawar and Rajsamand MP Diya Kumari as the party’s state general secretary is significant, as neither is counted among Raje’s loyalists.
“Dilawar is known to share a difficult relationship with Raje and was denied a ticket by the party in 2013 when the BJP won the elections under Raje’s leadership. He was gradually sidelined. The fact that he has been given an important position despite being a Raje detractor shows that the central leadership was in favour of his appointment,” said a senior BJP leader on condition of anonymity.
Dilawar was fielded by the BJP from Ramganjmandi constituency, from where he won the 2018 Assembly elections. The multiple-term BJP MLA, who is known to have strong ties with the RSS, is being seen at the forefront during the current political crisis in Rajasthan. Dilawar has filed a petition in the Rajasthan High Court challenging the merger of six BSP MLAs with the Congress last year.
Apart from Dilawar and Kumari, Bhajanlal Sharma and Sushil Katara, both considered to be in the Raje camp, have also been made general secretary. BJP insiders say that by including Raje loyalists such as Sharma, Katara, Ashok Saini, K K Vishnoi and Hemraj Meena for the posts of general secretary, secretary and vice-president, there has been an effort to balance the appointments of people such as Dilawar, Kumari, Mahendra Yadav and Ajay Pal Singh, who are not known to be close to the former CM.
Prasanna Mehta, who has been made a state vice-president of the BJP, is known to be close to Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and the RSS, said BJP sources.
Perhaps the most significant of the 25 appointments in the executive committee is that of Rajsamand MP Diya Kumari, an erstwhile protégé of Raje, who is now not counted among her loyalists.
“Before the Lok Sabha elections last year, Raje was not in favour of the party giving a ticket to Kumari, who is also from a royal family like the former chief minister. However, despite Raje’s objection, Kumari was fielded from Rajsamand by the party and she went on to become an MP. Within the party, Kumari is considered to be among the new generation leaders in Rajasthan who are being groomed by the central leadership for bigger responsibilities,” said the BJP leader.
Ties between Raje and Kumari had started to sour after the Jaipur Development Corporation sealed Raj Mahal Palace, belonging to the erstwhile royal family of Jaipur in 2016, when Raje was chief minister. Kumari, a member of the Jaipur royal family and then a BJP MLA, had fiercely opposed the move, which had culminated in protests by the Rajput community.
During Raje’s tenure as CM from 2013 and 2018, the BJP’s state leadership was filled with her supporters. For most of this period, Ashok Parnami, a loyalist of Raje, was state party president.
After Parnami’s resignation in early 2018, Raje again got her way as the central leadership had to take back the candidature of Shekhawat, who was its first choice for heading the party in Rajasthan. Raje was against Shekhawat’s appointment as party president in Rajasthan, which led to the post going to the late Madan Lal Saini, a compromise candidate.
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