Vasundhara Raje, former chief minister of Rajasthan, was among the 83 candidates announced by the BJP to contest the upcoming state assembly elections. Ms. Raje will participate from her traditional Jhalrapatan seat.
Ms Raje is at loggerheads with Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and has not yet been visible in the BJP’s election campaign. The two leaders have not been close since Ms Raje opposed Shekhawat’s appointment as BJP chief in Rajasthan in 2018, saying it would distance the Jaat community from the party in the 2018 elections.
Ms Raje’s sidelining in the BJP’s first list of candidates had drawn sharp reactions from the opposition. But in a move seen as an attempt to balance political equations, several of Ms Raje’s supporters are also on BJP’s new list.
But after the party’s Central Election Committee meeting on Friday, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president JP Nadda, the BJP has decided to bank on Ms. Raje’s popularity, which is accepted by the various voter bases in the state.
Vasundhara Raje comes from the Scindia royal family, the former rulers of Gwalior, now in Madhya Pradesh. Her mother Vijayaraje Scindia was a prominent leader in the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) and later in the BJP. Her brother Madhavrao Scindia was a prominent Congress leader.
In the second list, BJP also fielded Narpat Singh Rajvi of Chittorgarh from Vidhyadhar Nagar seat, following his earlier decision to reject the five-term MLA. Mr Rajvi is the son-in-law of stalwart leader Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and his missing name in the first list sparked a backlash from a section of party workers.
The BJP leadership’s U-turn on his candidature is being seen as a damage control exercise after Mr Rajvi reacted angrily and cited his family legacy to hit the party.
Elections will be held between November 7 and 30 in the five crucial states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram, and the results will be declared on December 3, the Election Commission said. All 200 seats in Rajasthan will be voted on on November 25.
In the 2018 Assembly elections, the Congress won 100 seats while the BJP had 73. The Congress eventually formed the government and Ashok Gehlot was installed as chief minister after support from the Bahujan Samaj Party, which claimed six seats.