Vasundhara Raje — the tallest leader of the BJP in Rajasthan — is expected to make a late entry into the four-day-old political battleground tomorrow. The former Chief Minister — believed to be out of Jaipur for the last three days — is expected to attend a crucial strategy session of the BJP tomorrow, sources told NDTV.
The BJP, accused of engineering the meltdown in the Congress camp with Sachin Pilot’s open rebellion, has so far maintained silence and a close watch. But a final call on the way forward is expected to be taken tomorrow, sources said.
Ms Raje, despite her scuffles with the Central leadership, has been the party’s best known face in the state. In 2003, the party, under her leadership, bagged a majority for the first time. It won in 120 out of 200 seats — a feat that had eluded even the state’s stalwart leader and former Chief Minister Bhairon Singh Sekhawat. It helped her become the state’s first woman Chief Minister. A mass leader, she had prevailed on the party to pick her for the top job in 2013.
Ahead of the 2018 elections, she had even carried out her point despite Amit Shah’s disapproval regarding the choice of candidates. The party did not perform well in the election. But Ms Raje still has the support of 45 of the BJP’s 75 MLAs in the state.
The 67-year-old, who also enjoys a huge mass base, is still a key player, making it tricky for the party to fit in Sachin Pilot, who has made it clear that he is only interested in the top post.
Sources have told NDTV that several rounds of meetings have taken place between Mr Pilot and senior members of the BJP but the final decision cannot be taken without consulting Ms Raje.
The central leaders of the party dispatched senior leader Om Mathur to Jaipur this morning to take stock of the situation. He is also expected to attend tomorrow’s meeting.
With Congress numbers shrinking, there has been talk of a trust vote already in the BJP camp.
“The only way to do this is to prove your majority on the floor of the house. We demand that Ashok Gehlot immediately prove his strength in the assembly. It is very clear that his government is in minority. The onus is on him to prove this,” a source in the BJP told NDTV today.