Unsure if the worse is over, the BJP rank and file in the state are keeping mum on the Vasundhara Raje-Lalit Modi storm despite signals from the party high command of backing the Chief Minister for the moment. An uneasy calm prevailed at the party headquarters and within the Raje camp, which refrained from making any show of strength to avoid inviting the Central leadership’s ire.
Raje spent the day at her Civil Lines residence holding minor official meetings. Over the past week, Raje has given her normal routine of marathon meetings and active participation in social events a miss.
On Sunday, as 77 donors were honoured for their donations in the education sector, Governor Kalyan Singh and Primary Education Minister Vasudev Devnani managed the show, with Raje’s absence being conspicuous.
Even as the state government, in a laudable show, rescued an eight-year-old girl — 32 hours after she had fallen into a 450-feet deep borewell in Ajitgarh in Sikar — and rushed to JK Lon Hospital in the state capital, it was the Health Minister, Rajendra Rathore, that went to check on the survivor.
It was rumoured that Raje would visit the girl in the hospital, as she usually does in such special cases, but with a battery of mediapersons waiting for her at the hospital, there was no sign of the CM. Raje later issued a statement congratulating officials for rescuing the minor.
Meanwhile, Raje has surrounded herself with her loyalists and, according to sources, has been in discussions with her coterie on ways to make up for party’s loss of face in the state. Schedules for ‘Jansunwais’(public hearings), that had fallen off the party’s routine, have been brought back on track so that senior party leaders and ministers got back to feeling the pulse of the party workers and the electorate.
Even as Raje tries to ride out the Lalit Modi storm, it will not be easy for her to regain lost political ground fast enough for the local body polls slated for August.
The opposition Congress has already gone to town harping on the Raje-Modi controversy, while a group of prominent activists, led by former National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy and People’s Union for Civil Liberties general secretary Kavita Srivastava, are leading a sustained campaign against Raje demanding her resignation and a fair probe into her ties with Lalit Modi.