RAJE BEING MADE BJP FACE IN POLLS GETS MIXED RESPONSE Amit Shah may have just stated the obvious when he said during his Rajasthan visit on Saturday that chief minister Raje will be the face of the party in the elections, but people have different interpretations of the same. Senior BJP leaders concede that the party has dim chances of winning in Rajasthan. Raje’s detractors feel putting the onus on her for the defeat would put the 65-year-old out of contention in future battles. But going by the manner in which she has had her say in front of Shah on Rajasthan issues, it is not going to be a cakewalk. Raje will not only be fighting Congress in the Assembly polls but has plans of putting party state unit leaders in their place too. She opposed the names proposed for state unit chief by Shah and agreed only when he zeroed- in on non-controversial leader Madanlal Saini. The central BJP leadership is concerned that all these intra-party battles may cost the party dear in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. BJP had won all 25 seats in 2014.
BJP APES CONGRESS, PLAYS OBC POLITICS IN STATE
Rajasthan has had the tradition of voting out the incumbent and by this logic Congress has a chance of winning the Assembly elections later this year. To take on the Congress, BJP appears to be aping the strategy of the grand old party in the state and wooing the OBCs. While earlier the BJP unit chief would be from the upper caste or would be somebody belonging to a caste neutral party, this time it has appointed Saini, who belongs to the same OBC Maali caste as Congress chief ministerial hopeful Ashok Gehlot. The other Congress face is Sachin Pilot, who belongs to the Gujjar OBC caste. As part of its outreach to backwards, the party also inducted Meena leader Kirodilal Meena into the party and promptly gave him a Rajya Sabha seat. The Brahmins are said to be unhappy with BJP and did not vote for it in the Alwar and Ajmer Lok Sabha by-polls. Shah wanted to appoint Rajput leader Gajendra Shekhawat as state unit chief but Raje opposed it. The NDA government, however, does have some Jat and Rajput leaders from the state.
ALWAR MOB LYNCHING DIVIDES BJP
Alwar district is fast acquiring the dubious distinction of being the place for mob lynchings. The lynching of Akbar Khan is the third case since April, 2017. While Pehlu Khan’s killing in November had hit the headlines and invited criticism from BJP too, the latest incident appears to have divided the party. Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje has called it a condemnable act and union minister Rajyavardhan Rathore termed the lynching an illegal, reprehensible act and demanded the culprits must be made an example of. But Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal had a different explanation: “the more Modi becomes popular, more such incidents will occur”. Controversial state unit leader Gyan Dev Ahuja maintained Akbar died in police custody and the mob was not responsible. The party has now issued a gag order and said only those authorised to speak will do so on the mob lynching issue. Like Assembly polls in Gujarat and other northern states, the Rajasthan elections are also going to be polarised, BJP leaders maintain. Party chief Amit Shah has already accused Congress of playing appeasement politics in the state.
A district unit of BJP youth wing tried to take party chief Amit Shah for a ride but was caught. Local media reports said BJYM unit of Sikar district send a list of names as members but many of them are not party cadre. Some of the names given were of those leaders who are above 50. Shah emphasises on strengthening the booth level committees, social media teams and the youth wing in every state during his tour. He feels party being strong at the grassroots will fetch votes on polling day as this cadre will galvanise voters. The youth are an important part of the social media and booth level committees. He is not likely to take kindly to this act.
BJP DALIT LEADER PLAYS CHEERLEADER TO MODI
Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal is a former bureaucrat who is often in the news. During the noconfidence motion debate in Lok Sabha, Meghwal was seen enthusiastically cheering Modi by thumping his desk and laughing out loud at his remarks. The Dalit leader has also said lynchings going up with the rising popularity of Modi. Meghwal had earlier taken on Robert Vadra by raising objections to acquisition of land at low cost by the latter’s company in Bikaner. He used to ride a bicycle to Parliament till he became a minister. His constituency was represented by actor Dharmendra from 2004-09. One doesn’t know about Meghwal’s acting skills but he can sing.