Express News Service

JAIPUR: The ‘Jan Aashirwad Yatra’ by Union Minister Bhupendra Yadav has heated up the internal politics of the Rajasthan BJP. 

Although Vasundhara Raje has been included in the posters for the yatra, she and her entire faction continue to remain missing from action. In contrast, the anti-Vasundhara lobby is being seen prominently in promoting the yatra. This has set off strong speculation that Yadav is now trying to establish himself as a potential CM face in the state. 

Interestingly, a former MLA from the anti-Vasundhara lobby has advised Raje to move to the central stage and allow a new leader to emerge as BJP’s CM face for the next elections in Rajasthan. 

On the second day of his Yatra on Friday, Yadav entered Ajmer district where he was greeted with much enthusiasm. Yadav, who was recently inducted into the Modi cabinet, had studied in Ajmer and still has strong links in the district.

Making scathing attacks on the Congress government in the state, Yadav asked party workers to work with a commitment to form a BJP government in 2003 with a three-fourth majority. “We could not form the government in Rajasthan 2018. We lost with a narrow margin but it caused a huge loss to the people of Rajasthan. But now people are ready to vote out the Congress party.” 

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The mission of the three-day Yatra is the Assembly elections in 2023 but with Bhupendra Yadav becoming the face rather than other MPs such as Gajendra Shekhawat or Arjun Ram Meghwal, questions are being asked whether the party wants to position him as a new CM face of the party in the state. 

Yadav who is considered close to Home Minister Amit Shah and PM Narendra Modi, is also a major strategist of the party. BJP sources said that Bhupendra Yadav’s Yatra carries a deeper political statement. While on the surface it does not appear to be so, political circles in the desert state have suddenly started resonating with the show of power that is coming out as a result of this Yatra. While hordes of people gathered to welcome Yadav during the yatra, senior leaders of the party too were seen welcoming him. Besides, many MPs and MLAs along with stalwarts such as Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Satish Poonia, Rajendra Rathore, and Gulab Chand Kataria are seen to be very active during the Yatra. 

Except for Raje loyalists, all the major BJP leaders are being seen in this Yatra. While Raje, a two-time CM, has been established as the face of the party in the state, the BJP’s central leadership has tried to sideline her for the past two years.

After he was made a Union Minister, Bhupendra Yadav has emerged as a possible CM face for the BJP. With the party choosing him to be face of the ‘Jan Aashirwad Yatra’, many in the BJP say the party is now trying to promote him. However, Yadav himself has denied that he is a CM contender. “I am not a claimant to the CM post. These speculations are baseless. There are many leaders in the state BJP from whom I still learn even today,” said Yadav 

Interestingly, a former BJP MLA from Alwar district, Gyandev Ahuja has made some important comments about Vasundhara Raje’s future. He said: “Raje has been the Chief Minister of Rajasthan twice. Now she should leave the state of her own will and go to the Centre. Raje should give chance to other people in the state by becoming a minister at the Centre and should work under the national leadership.” 

Besides Vasundhara Raje, the Rajasthan BJP already has several leaders who are keen to become the CM face. Among them are Union Ministers Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Arjun Meghwal, former Union minister Rajyavardhan Singh, current BJP state chief Satish Poonia and the current Leader of the Opposition in Rajasthan Assembly, Gulab Chand Kataria. While the ultimate decision will be made in 2023, the ‘Jan Aashirwad Yatra’ has certainly made Union Minister Bhupendra Yadav as a potential CM face for Rajasthan.