‘Vasundhara ji raaj karo, kesariya mei hara hara, Rajasthan mein Vasundhara."
(You rule Vasundhara. Shades of green in saffron, Vasundhara in Rajasthan.)
The slogans were raised by Vasundhara Raje's supporters before the former Rajasthan chief minister addressed a massive gathering to celebrate her 70th birthday in Salasar town, Churu district, around 200 km from Jaipur.
Draped in a double-shaded saffron and green tie and dye chiffon saree, Raje's speech commenced with a thanking note to Salasar Balaji, a lord Hanuman incarnation. “In the morning when I saw clouds and thunder in Salasar, I prayed for rains in this part of the state, which is majorly arid. I also prayed for the prosperity and good health of Rajasthan and its people”, said the BJP national vice president.
“My idea is not to celebrate a grand birthday but to meet my well-wishers and supporters. Seeing thousands of people here to greet me on my special day has moved me to tears”, said Raje who preponed her birthday celebrations, four days ahead of March 8, coinciding with the Holi festival. Raje also thanked stalwart BJP leaders, her late mother Vijaya Raje Scindia, former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former Rajasthan CM and vice president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, for their mentorship and support.
Raje utilized the opportunity to criticize the incumbent Congress government and its schemes, “The Congress government shutdown welfare schemes and changed the name of the Bhamashah Swasthya Beema yojana started by us." She further added that the Congress party, currently in power in Rajasthan has also failed to ensure government jobs and raised the issue of frequent question paper leaves. "The party has also disappointed the farmers by failing to deliver their promise of farm loan waivers”, Raje added as she appealed to the public to elect BJP to power with a thumping majority. The party won 163 seats in Rajasthan during the 2013 elections while in 2018, the BJP lost the assembly elections and was reduced to 73 seats.
Following her address, Raje met with people from all communities and then wrapped the function with an evident assertion on Hindutva as she chanted the Hanuman Chalisa.
Raje’s Show of Strength
The public meeting is also seen as a show of strength ahead of assembly elections in the state. Apart from the gathering of thousands of people from across Rajasthan, a huge number of women accompanied by children were also present during the celebrations. Notably, BJP leaders including several sitting and former MPs and MLAs also attended the event. The Raje camp claimed that as many as 50 sitting MLAs, 14 Lok Sabha MPs, one Rajya Sabha MP, and former 118 MLAs were present at the public meeting.
“Raje chose to celebrate her birthday when the youth wing of the BJP, headed by state chief Satish Poonia had officially announced a protest in Jaipur against the Congress government. The meeting is a symbol to demonstrate her strength,” a senior BJP MLA told Outlook.
The biggest challenge before BJP ahead of the polls is to maintain peace among all the conflicting factions - Raje loyalists and supporters of BJP president Satish Poonia. The internal conflict has exposed fault lines within the saffron party in the state in the last few years.
This was not the first time that Raje has demonstrated her show of strength publicly. Earlier in 2022, she celebrated her birthday at the Keshorai Bhagwan temple in Keshoraipatan, Bundi district, with a public meeting, rallies, deep daan,, and other programs.
Raje’s constant efforts of power display can also be gauged from her four Dev Darshan (religious tour) in 2021 and a fortnight tour in 2022 where visited all prominent temples of Rajasthan.