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Raje's 69th Birthday Turns Out To Be Show Of Strength Amidst Brewing Factionalism In Rajasthan BJP

According to Raje's office, around one lakh people, 50 MLAs and 15 MP's from the BJP, and former MLAs and MP's were present at the rally and other events throughout the day.

Vasundhara Raje celebrates her 69th birthday in Rajasthan
Vasundhara Raje celebrates her 69th birthday in Rajasthan Outlook Photo

The former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's 69th birthday celebration turned out to be a show of strength with a mix of religion and politics - and a clear message to BJP amidst the brewing factionalism.

Incidentally coinciding with International Women’s Day, Raje celebrated her 69th birthday by offering prayers at the Keshorai Bhagwan temple in Keshoraipatan, in Bundi district, followed by meeting people, rally, deep daan and other programmes. Being Raje's home turf, the rally witnessed the participation of almost one lakh people from various districts of Rajasthan and women were seen in high numbers.

Raje's address on her birthday celebration was political by attacking the Ashok Gehlot government, and listing out the achievements when she was in power. "BJP will win with a landline victory in the 2023 state election. In 2003 we won 120 seats, in 2013 we won 163 seats and in 2023 we make a record comeback. Three is lucky for the BJP and we have to work together for our aim". Besides a sea of the crowd who attended the rally, according to Raje's office, around 50 MLAs and 15 MPs from the BJP, and former MLAs and MPs were present at the rally and other events throughout the day.

The former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's 69th birthday celebration
The former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's 69th birthday celebration turned out to be a show of strength with a mix of religion and politics 

Raje is a sitting MLA from Jhalrapatan while her son Dushyant Singh is the Lok Sabha MP from Jhalawar-Baran constituency. Earlier, Raje has won from Jhalawar as MP five times. Interestingly, last year too, on her birthday, which coincided with Raje had launched a dharmik yatra (religious yatra) in east Rajasthan's Bharatpur.

"The is a clear signal to BJP leaders at the centre and in the state to tell them that BJP cannot make a comeback without nominating Raje as a CM candidate. She still enjoys the support from all communities and the castes", a senior BJP leader told Outlook.

However, Union home affair minister Amit Shah’s while addressing the 'Janpratinidhi Sankalp Sammelan' in Jaipur in December 2021, had exuded the confidence that the BJP will win the 2023 assembly elections in Rajasthan with a two-thirds majority but also made it clear there will be no chief ministerial face for the 2023 state elections.

Show of strength

This is not for the first time that Raje's tour has turned into a show of strength. In November 2021, just three months ago, Raje conducted a four days 'Dev Darshan' (religious tour). She then had made every attempt of giving her trip a 'religious' flavour but the party's state unit saw it as a show of strength. Last year in October, Raje visited Jodhpur to offer condolences to Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on the death of his mother. She also visited the former minister Mahipal Maderna’s house to pay her tributes to the Congress leader who died in October.

Raje, known to be a crowd-puller received birthday wishes from all party leaders right from PM Modi to a worker in a district. Despite the cracks in the BJP, Raje's stage showed a united front of BJP with posters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, party president JP Nadda and Rajasthan BJP chief Satish Poonia. However, Poonia, with whom Raje is not in sync with did not attend any of her celebrations.

 

Raje, known to be a crowd-puller received birthday wishes from all party leaders right from PM Modi
Raje, known to be a crowd-puller received birthday wishes from all party leaders right from PM Modi to a worker in a district. 

On the eve of her birthday, an audio clip purportedly featuring BJP MLA from Bundi Ashok Dogra went viral, pointing out to party workers that Raje’s functions were not party programmes. However, Dogra denied it and told the media that it was not his voice.

In Rajasthan's Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), the infighting between the Vasundhara Raje faction and the state Rajasthan president Satish Poonia is an open secret. The in-fighting in the Rajasthan BJP dates back to the 2018 assembly elections. After losing the elections, Raje was sidelined by the central leadership. In June this year, BJP Rajasthan in charge, Arun Singh, had warned party leaders that strict action would be taken against those trying to create factions in the party.

For over a year the state BJP leadership has been alleging Raje to be running a ‘parallel system’ in the state with a focus on herself instead of the party. This even includes Covid-19 welfare initiatives, for which she reached out to many during the second wave. The supporters of Vasundhara Raje are openly demanding that the party project her as the Chief Ministerial candidate for the 2023 elections. In August last year, her supporters inaugurated an office in Jaipur that fueled many rumours.
 

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