New Delhi: Amid speculation that the BJP could repeat its Madhya Pradesh strategy of fielding its MPs, including Union ministers, in Rajasthan as well for the impending Assembly elections and that some of the MLAs who have completed three or more terms could be replaced with new faces, the party's top brass held marathon meetings with the Rajasthan unit leaders. Union home minister Amit Shah and BJP national president J.P. Nadda also attended the meeting.
A separate meeting between Mr Shah, Mr Nadda and the former chief minister and one of the top contenders for the chief ministerial post, Vasundhara Raje, created a buzz in the faction-ridden unit of the BJP. There are talks that the central leadership tried to assure Ms Raje that she will have an equal say during the ticket distribution. The meeting comes amid speculation that the party's central leadership may deny tickets to leaders considered close to her.
Keeping in mind that the BJP Rajasthan unit is gripped with factionalism, the party will contest the coming Assembly polls under “collective leadership” with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the poll mascot. The state leaders, it was learnt, were asked to keep their differences aside and told that winning the polls is the only priority.
The BJP's central election committee (CEC) is expected to meet on Saturday and Sunday to finalise its candidates for the upcoming state elections, including Rajasthan.
In Jaipur, the BJP top brass discussed election-related issues with the state leaders, including the just-concluded Parivartan Yatras. According to the feedback, the yatras did not garner as much crowd as was expected. Also, the yatras failed to attract women voters, considered a strong votebank of the BJP. As was expected by the party leadership, some within the state unit blamed it on Ms Raje’s "sidelining”, as she is considered a major crowd puller, including women voters.
The meetings with the BJP top brass and the state core group leaders, which started late Wednesday evening, continued till 2 am on Thursday.
“Discussions on election strategy were held in the meeting,” Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said after the meeting. Mr Shekhawat’s name is also doing the rounds as one of the MPs to be fielded for the Assembly polls.
Those who attended the meeting included election in-charge for Rajasthan and Union minister Pralhad Joshi, co-in-charge Nitin Patel, BJP's in-charge for Rajasthan Arun Singh, state unit president C.P. Joshi, Union ministers Arjun Meghwal, Kailash Chaudhary, Leader of the Opposition in Assembly Rajendra Rathore, deputy Leader of the Opposition Satish Poonia, former Union minister Rajyavardhan Rathore.
The meeting continued for around three hours. Mr Nadda and Mr Shah, it was learnt, then held a meeting with the BJP's national general secretary (organisation) B.L. Santosh, Mr Joshi, Mr Patel, Mr Singh, Kuldeep Vishnoi and Vijaya Rahatkar, among others.