The BJP is thinking of repeating its 2013 performance in the state, but factionalism remains a key hurdle in its 2023 mission.

 

New Delhi: While keeping a close eye on the developments within the ruling Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party has started preparations for the upcoming Rajasthan Assembly elections. The recently held two-day Chintan Shivir at Kumbhalgarh, in which the party’s national organizational general secretary was present, shows how much importance the BJP is giving to the state.

In comparison to other states, Rajasthan is a bit different with the supporters of Vasundhara Raje demanding a major say in decision-making and in strategy-making in the upcoming Assembly polls. Party leaders claimed that the direction from the high command is clear that the rank and file of the party need to work together, keep factionalism away and form a BJP government in 2023, with a thumping majority.

One senior party leader, who did not wish to be named, said: “The message from B.L. Santosh was clear: factionalism would not be tolerated at any cost. The party is supreme. If any leader tries to challenge the organization, the party will not accept it, come what may, we need to form a government in the state with absolute majority as Congress is going through one crisis after another in the state.” Rajasthan sends 25 Members of Parliament and has 200 seats in the state Assembly. The state had a history of changing governments for the last 30 years and the saffron party thinks that now it is turn to rule the state after 2023. The upcoming byelections in Dhariwad and Vallabhnagar are the party’s first priority as winning the seats will give the BJP the much-needed momentum in the state.

In the 2018 Assembly elections, the BJP had won 73 seats, while the Congress got 100 seats on its own.

The tussle in the state Congress between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy and state president Sachin Pilot has emboldened the BJP to believe that it can repeat the 2013 results, when it won 163 out of 200 seats. Jaipur based political analyst and commentator, Kripashankar Joshi, said: “The BJP leadership is thinking that it is very easy to win the state in view of the crisis in the Congress, but even within the BJP, things are not very hunky dory. Loyalists of the former CM Vasundhara Raje have been demanding that she be named as the chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming elections. State president Satish Poonia outrightly said that any decision on the CM face would be decided by the parliamentary board of the party. Even the Rajasthan BJP in-charge, Arun Singh had warned party leaders that strict action would be taken against leaders who breached discipline. Since the last two years, the BJP’s Rajasthan unit has bbeen witnessing a power tussle between supporters of former CM Vasundhara Raje and the state BJP president Satish Poonia and Cabinet Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on the other side. Therefore, the BJP needs to put its own house in order, so it can aim for 150-plus seats in the upcoming Assembly polls.”

BJP MLA and senior leader Ramlal Sharma said: “We will form government in the state with an absolute majority. Our organizational structure is much better than the Congress’; moreover, the government of Ashok Gehlot has failed on all fronts and is going through a crisis. Work done by Narendra Modiji has been accepted by the people of Rajasthan. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, we won 25 out of 25 seats from the state. I hope we will do something similar in the Assembly elections.”