She is on a pilgrimage, which has turned out to be a crowd-puller.
After Cabinet rejig, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot last week proved himself to be the only power centre in Rajasthan Congress. Now, former CM and senior BJP leader Vasundhara Raje is out in a show of strength to give a message to her rivals. She is carrying out a religious tour in the state, which has turned out to be a crowd-puller event.
The massive crowds in Raje’s religious yatra is an indication of her hold among the public. The rivals are, therefore, having anxious moments. Raje is terming her yatra as a non-political event, and taunting the rivals for politicizing it. Raje keeps connecting with the people during the “Dev Darshan Yatra” and gets grand rounds of applause. The state BJP unit has distanced itself from the yatra. State BJP president Satish Punia says that it is a personal yatra. With this, the BJP looks to be divided in two groups. The groupism in BJP is worrisome for the leadership.
Raje’s activeness has given a message that she is the real leader of the saffron party in Rajasthan, though the elections are two years away.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah will be in Jaipur on 5 December, and then it will be clear what is going to happen in BJP. Rajasthan is the only state in the country where the BJP high command cannot do what it wants. When attempts were made to topple the Gehlot government allegedly with the backing of the BJP, what was seen was that the saffron outfit stood divided. Earlier also, the BJP high command could not do anything even when its own government was in power in Rajasthan.
Vasundhara Raje pursued her politics in the state in her own style without any pressure. She was opposed by her own party leaders from the day she got active in state politics. Raje never gave up and defeated her rivals. There is no denying that Congress’ Ashok Gehlot and BJP’s Raje are the only leaders who command tremendous hold in the entire state. That is the reason why Gehlot remains unaffected despite rivals’ attempt to tarnish his image. Secondly, Gehlot does not take any decision without taking the high command into confidence. This is another reason why rivals do not succeed in their mission against him.
Raje’s politics is a bit different. She takes rivals head-on from Delhi as well. She is doing the same at present also. Raje is carrying out the religious yatra in a calculated manner. In fact, Raje was sidelined in the party in Rajasthan since the electoral defeat in 2018. The high command tried to project a new leadership, but the party suffered losses. The BJP state unit focused more on targeting Raje instead of Congress. Raje remained silent. What upset Raje was that the high command never warned the state leaders against targeting her even while she is national vice president of the party. However, Raje visited Delhi and apprised the high command of what state leaders were doing. Neglecting Raje cost the BJP dear as it suffered poll reverses in by-elections, corporation polls, etc. The BJP got third and fourth positions in the bypolls held recently.
Now, Raje has started mobilizing her supporters through this yatra. Rajasthan Assembly elections are due in 2023. But Raje has started her ground work now. She started Dev Darshan Yatra from 23 November from Sanwaliya Mandir of Chittorgarh. She slams the Gehlot government over various issues during the yatra. The former CM also visited Tripura Sundri Mandir at Banswara, Srinath Mandir at Nathdwara, Eklinga Mandir at Udaipur and Chaarbhuja Mandir at Ajmer. During this yatra, she is also meeting those who lost their kin to Covid-19. Leaders like Yunus Khan, Ashok Parnami, Kailash Meghwal and Kalicharan Sarraf are managing the yatra which has been extended upto Marwar in view of the big crowd. In an attempt to reenergize the workers, Raje keeps saying that success comes after failure, success and failure are two sides of the same coin, and asks workers not to be disappointed. She quotes former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, saying that darkness will go away and the sun will shine and lotus will bloom. She is trying to give out a message that she is the real BJP leader in Rajasthan. That Raje is daughter of Vajayaraje Scindia, one of the founders of BJP, goes in her favour. In view of all this, the BJP high command cannot afford to ignore Vasundhara Raje.