New Delhi: Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje is in Delhi amid heightened tensions between the central and state leaderships of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party over the choice for the next Rajasthan BJP president.
After Ashok Parnami stepped down as the state party chief, there has been mystery over who will succeed him. Sources said, Shah, who is said to be busy with the Karnataka polls, has not yet made a decision but Raje’s trip to the National Capital aims to lobby for her chosen candidate.
Parnami, who was seen as a Raje loyalist, had to step down after the BJP suffered crushing defeats in the Ajmer and Alwar Lok Sabha bypolls and the Mandalgarh Assembly bypoll.
Since his resignation, however, no decision on the new name has been taken.
The new state chief will have the immediate responsibility of reinstating confidence among the state’s BJP workers, who are demoralised after back-to-back bypoll losses and counter a resurgent Rajasthan Congress. But the state chief is also a powerful position, which allows the leader control over the party organisation in the state. That is why Rajasthan has seen intense lobbying after Parnami’s exit.
Over the last month, three names have been doing the rounds and none have any consensus behind them. The first name is that of Bikaner MP and Union Minister of State (MoS) for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Arjun Ram Meghwal. However, sources said the Raje camp is unhappy with the choice since he is seen as close to the Central leadership, which has rarely seen eye to eye with the Chief Minister.
The other name is that of Jodhpur MP and Union MoS for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who is also seen as being close to Shah. According to recent reports, state leaders in Rajasthan have sent an ‘SoS’ to Shah to not appoint Shekhawat as the state chief.
Shekhawat, an old RSS hand, is also seen as acceptable to the Sangh.
Sources said, Raje’s own choice is state Cabinet Minister Shrichand Kriplani, who has never made a secret of being in the Raje camp.
Recently, however, Kriplani took himself out, saying he wasn’t in the race.
“I was made a state minister because I enjoy the confidence of the Chief Minister,” he was quoted as saying, adding, “but I am not in the race to become the state BJP president.”