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Vasundhara Raje stages a comeback, included in BJP core group for Rajasthan


JAIPUR: Former CM Vasundhara Raje has been included in the BJP's high-powered core committee for the state unit in a sign that the party leadership is keen to patch up its internal rift in Rajasthan. 

Since the BJP lost the Assembly elections two years ago, Raje was marginalized and kept out of state party forums. But the national president JP Nadda has now included her in the 16-member core committee.

Besides Raje, three Union ministers from Rajasthan -- Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Arjun Ram Meghwal, and Kailash Chaudhari -- are also a part of the BJP's core group for Rajasthan. In addition, BJP state president Satish Poonia, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Gulabchand Kataria, Lok Sabha MPs Kankamal Katara and CP Joshi, Rajya Sabha MP Rajendra Gahlot are other members of this core group. 

Political circles are now buzzing over the inclusion of Vasundhra Raje. Many see it as a sign that the party High Command is thinking of rehabilitating her in the state BJP unit. Raje’s inclusion comes barely a fortnight after she was not invited to a meeting in Delhi where Nadda had summoned three top leaders from the state. 

In a direct challenge to the central BJP leadership, the supporters of Raje had openly asked the party high command to declare Raje as the chief ministerial candidate of the BJP in the next elections. Though Raje has remained silent on the issue, political observers say it is a show of defiance at her behest since she was upset at being sidelined. 

Just a day after that Delhi meeting, Raje supporters had formed a ‘Vasundhara Raje Samarthak Rajasthan Manch’. The announcement of the Manch formed by Raje supporters on Social Media with office bearers in 25 districts had led to major consternation and rift within the Rajasthan BJP.

The current state BJP chief Satish Poonia had reacted sharply and pointed out that his loyalists too had made a similar forum in Poonia’s name on social media.

Raje’s inclusion in the core group is now being seen as an effort to end the quarrel, especially between Raje loyalists and the RSS faction headed by Poonia. Besides local body elections, four by-elections for Rajasthan Assembly are forthcoming and this move is being seen as a bid to present a united face of the BJP in the state.

In a letter to Poonia, the national general Secretary Arun Singh has instructed that the core group meetings should be held mandatorily once a month. The first meeting of the core group is slated for January 24.