Published On: Mon, Feb 27th, 2023

Vasundhara Raje’s birthday celebrations at Churu district to be a show of strength


Former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s birthday celebrations at Salasar Balaji Dham in Churu district on March 4 is likely to be a show of strength, which will send a strong political message to the BJP’s central leadership. Ms. Raje’s supporters have given a call to the party members to gather in huge numbers in the temple town.

Ms. Raje, who will turn 70, has scheduled the programme four days before her birthday, which falls on March 8, in view of the upcoming Holi festival. While her supporters have raised the demand to project her as the chief ministerial face during the BJP’s campaign for this year’s Assembly election, Ms. Raje also seems to have made a strong pitch as a contender for the post.

Renewed vigour

Ms. Raje’s appearance in public life with renewed vigour is set to deepen the rivalry within the party. Her photographs had earlier disappeared from the BJP’s hoardings outside the party’s headquarters in Jaipur and elsewhere in the State since Satish Poonia was appointed the State unit chief in 2019.

The former CM’s move to hold birthday celebrations in Churu district has been perceived here as a challenge to Mr. Poonia, who hails from Churu’s Rajgarh village, and Deputy Leader of the Opposition Rajendra Rathore, who treats the district as his political bastion and at present represents Churu in the State Assembly. He was earlier elected from Churu’s Taranagar seat.

Mr. Poonia has opposed the projection of any leader as the candidate for the CM’s face and declared several times that the Assembly election will be fought with the face of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Union Minister and Jodhpur MP Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, said to be nursing hopes of becoming the CM, has also stated that there is no leader in the party bigger than Mr. Modi and the BJP will contest the poll with lotus, the party’s symbol.

Ms. Raje has been celebrating most of her birthdays at Tripura Sundari temple in Banswara and Beneshwar Dham in Dungarpur. She has selected Churu’s famous Salasar Balaji Dham this time, where she will address a public meeting after offering prayers in the temple. Her trusted supporters have started preparations to mobilise the crowd at the event and invited people from all over Rajasthan to the temple town.

On the other hand, the BJP’s youth wing – the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) – has announced that it would hold a massive dharna outside the Assembly on March 4 on the issues of paper leaks during the competitive exams for government jobs and the increasing unemployment among the youth. BJYM State president Himanshu Sharma, a known supporter of Mr. Poonia, has invited all the BJP MLAs to join the demonstration.

While there is a perception that Mr. Sharma has announced the programme on March 4 at Mr. Poonia’s behest to sabotage Ms. Raje birthday’s celebration, her supporters have affirmed that the attempts to weaken her influence will not succeed. Even as the BJP has lost a series of Assembly byelections during the present Congress regime, it was Ms. Raje who had commanded a massive victory for the party in 2003 and 2013.

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