Several persons claiming to be supporters of former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje have floated an outfit named Vasundhara Raje Samarthak Manch Rajasthan (VRSMR), with its office bearers saying that they want to see Raje become the Chief Minister for the third time after the 2023 Assembly elections.
In the political circles of Rajasthan, this move is being seen as an attempt to reassert the authority of Raje in the state by her supporters. In recent times, there have been reports of friction between Raje and the state unit of the BJP in Rajasthan amid the growing clout of the party’s central leadership.
“The objective of the Vasundhara Raje Samarthak Manch Rajasthan is to spread awareness about the schemes started by former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje to the public. The names of many of these schemes have been changed or have been closed by the Congress government. The objective is to strengthen the BJP before the 2023 Assembly elections and we all want to see Vasundhara ji as the Chief Minister once again after the next elections. The public too wants to see her as the Chief Minister,” said advocate Vijay Bhardwaj, the state president of the VRSMR.
Bhardwaj identified himself as a BJP member and a former secretary of the state legal cell of the party. He said that he was part of the Janata Dal (United) from 1999 till 2003 and ever since then has been a loyal supporter of Raje.
“We have formed the state executive committee of the VRSMR and have also appointed district presidents and team members in 25 districts. We have the support of many BJP workers ranging from ground level cadre to MLAs and MPs,” claimed Bhardwaj.
However, despite his claims, Bhardwaj refused to divulge the names of any current legislators or parliamentarians who are said to be supporting the outfit.
Last year, known Raje detractors such as BJP MLA Madan Dilawar and Rajsamand MP Diya Kumari were included in the BJP state executive committee and bestowed plum posts.
Photos of letterheads of the VRSM wherein appointments were made in various districts have gone viral on social media.
“The people who say that Vasundhara ji’s clout has decreased in the state are inexperienced in matters of politics in Rajasthan. Had her power had diminished, would she be the national president of the BJP? Narendra Modi and JP Nadda are our ideals, while Vasundhara ji is our inspiration. We will strengthen the BJP. Even state BJP president Satish Poonia too has his own team. If we are willing to work under the name of Vasundhara ji, what’s wrong in it? Ours is not a separate outfit from the BJP,” said Bhardwaj.
Mahesh Singh Shekhawat, VRSMR district president, Jaipur Rural said that the outfit is a ‘non-political’ organisation and at present, has more than 2,000 members.
“More applications are coming in everyday,” said Shekhawat, who claimed that he is associated with the ABVP since the 1990s.
State BJP president Satish Poonia said that the BJP central leadership is aware of the development.
“It is not a serious matter for us. People circulate a lot of things on social media. Party, organisation and ideology are much bigger and such things don’t make a difference. This development seems to be only being floated on social media platforms and not being seen on the ground. The people behind it don’t seem to be very responsible. The central leadership is aware of this development and we are finding more about it. It is up to the central leadership to decide,” Poonia told The Indian Express.
In recent times, there have been instances when the name of Raje has been missing from posters of events of the state BJP, fuelling rumours that all was not well between her and the state leadership of the saffron party.
Last month, the BJP welcomed back to its fold senior politician and former MLA Ghanshyam Tiwari, who was a fiery critic of Raje and had left the party over differences with the former Chief Minister.
Raje’s long, conspicuous silence during the political crisis in Rajasthan after the rebellion of former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot was also noticed, with RLP MP Hanuman Beniwal who back then was a member of the NDA, alleging that Raje was trying to save the Ashok Gehlot government in the state.