‘Shah is in favour of Gajendra Singh Shekhawat as the new state chief, but Raje does not want him.’

 

Delay in appointment of the state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president has made party workers restless in Rajasthan, which is going for Assembly elections later this year.

Apart from Rajasthan, three other states—Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram—are going for Assembly elections this year.

Ashok Parnami resigned from the post on 16 April. However, no decision has been taken so far on the new president for the last two months due to differences of opinion between BJP chief Amit Shah and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. Parnami, considered to be close to Raje, was asked to quit following the defeat in the bypolls.

Though a high-level meeting, involving both Shah and Raje, was organised in the capital this week, no decision could be taken on the issue.

The meeting was held to review the preparedness for the Assembly elections. Besides Shah and Raje, the meeting was attended by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Union Ministers Arjun Meghwal and Chhotu Ram Chaudhary, general secretary (organisation) Ram Lal and joint general secretary V. Satish.

In the case of Madhya Pradesh, state president Nand Kumar Chauhan resigned in April, but soon after Rakesh Singh was appointed. However, in Rajasthan’s case, the issue is pending for the last two months.

Sources said Shah is in favour of Gajendra Singh Shekhawat as the new state chief. However, Raje is said to be strongly opposed to him. Raje’s supporters say that Shekhawat, a Rajput, is not a good choice for the post and may result in BJP losing the support of the Jat community.

However, sources said, Raje’s opposition is mainly due to her fear that, in the event of a BJP victory, he might turn her competitor. Raje is pushing for Srichand Kriplani and Arun Chaturvedi for the post.

The party leadership, however, feels that Shekhawat, 50, is a young face, and will be able to balance the caste equations. Shekhawat also has the backing of the RSS.  Sources said other names which were doing the rounds for the post included Arjun Ram Meghwal, Laxminarayan Dave and Bhupendra Yadav.

In the last Assembly elections in 2013, the BJP had won 163 seats, while the Congress 21. There are a total of 200 seats. In the Lok Sabha elections next year, the party won all the 25 seats.

In the absence of a state president, the BJP has not been able to launch a full-fledged campaign in the state, which has made party workers nervous. “Rajasthan has the tradition of changing its government every election. So it’s a big challenge to repeat the performance this time. Delay in appointment of the state BJP chief is hampering organisational work there,” a BJP worker said.

During the meeting, the party decided to take out yatras as part of its mass-contact programme. Moreover, the party will also be strengthened at the grassroots level by holding meetings of “panna-pramukhs”, booth level committees and undertaking door-to-door programmes.

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