RA­JASTHAN: A NEW STATE BJP CHIEF

A new state BJP chief de­fuses Raje-Shah ten­sions—for now

India Today - - STATES - By Ro­hit Par­i­har

The state BJP fi­nally has a new pres­i­dent in Ra­jya Sabha mem­ber Madan Lal Saini, thus end­ing the im­passe be­tween chief min­is­ter Va­sund­hara Raje and the party high com­mand that has per­sisted ever since Ashok Par­nami was asked to quit in the wake of the by­elec­tion de­ba­cle in April.

BJP chief Amit Shah has ev­i­dently elected to play safe, ap­peas­ing the RSS while try­ing not to ruf­fle Raje, who was firm on not bring­ing in a state pres­i­dent who would un­der­mine her own po­si­tion or dis­turb caste equa­tions in the state.

Saini is a grass­roots leader who has been with the Jan Sangh and RSS since 1952. He comes from the Mali OBC com­mu­nity, thus sat­is­fy­ing Raje’s con­cerns of not hav­ing a man from the Jats or Ra­jputs. But Saini’s po­lit­i­cal acu­men is ques­tion­able. He has won just one assem­bly poll in 1990. He’s lost two Lok Sabha and an assem­bly elec­tion since.

That said, he has hit the ground run­ning and used his first pub­lic ad­dress to ex­hort par­ty­men to shed their griev­ances and work for the party. “You must re­alise that be­ing in the party that is in power has its own sig­nif­i­cance and sat­is­fac­tion,” the new pres­i­dent said, urg­ing the BJP’s rank and file to aim for 180 seats in the 200-mem­ber Ra­jasthan assem­bly. The satta (bet­ting) mar­ket too has re­sponded, im­prov­ing the BJP’s prospects from 52 seats in the wake of the by­elec­tion dis­as­ter in Fe­bru­ary, to 78 this June.

Saini has started tour­ing Ra­jasthan to meet party veter­ans even as Raje raised monthly pen­sions to those ar­rested dur­ing the Emer­gency from Rs 1,200 to Rs 4,000. Mean­while, her not cow­ing down to the Modi-Shah duo’s pur­ported in­ter­fer­ence in the state BJP could see the emer­gence of new equa­tions within the party. That said, Raje has pulled out all the stops to en­sure Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s July 7 visit to Jaipur is a grand suc­cess. For the rally in the city where the BJP plans to show­case how its gov­ern­ment has changed peo­ple’s lives, Raje’s peo­ple are gath­er­ing ben­e­fi­cia­ries in large num­bers.

PURUSHOTTAM DIWAKAR

NEW LIGHT Saini with CM Raje at a party event

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