Vasundhara Raje gets state unit charge as BJP knits peace pact

In an apparent attempt to set its house in order ahead of the assembly elections later this year, the BJP on Saturday decided to contest assembly elections in Rajasthan under the leadership of former state chief minister Vasundhara Raje.

This is the first major organisational issue that has been settled by newly appointed BJP president Rajnath Singh, who held a meeting with senior party leaders Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Kaptan Singh Solanki along with state leaders Vasundhara Raje, Gulabchand Kataria, Arun Chaturvedi on Saturday before formally announcing the decision.

"We will go to assembly elections under the leadership of Vasundhara Raje," Singh said, in a virtual announcement of Raje as BJP's CM candidate in the state.

The issue has been hanging fire for some time now with a strong faction of states leaders former MP Ramdas Agrawal, deputy leader of opposition in assembly Ghanshyam Tiwari and MLA Gulab Chand Kataria vehemently opposed to giving Raje control over the party's election campaign.

According to the settlement worked out by the central leadership of the party, Raje will resign from her position as the leader of opposition in assembly and take charge as party's state unit chief. Gulab Chand Kataria, in the bargain, will be made the leader of opposition in the assembly for the remaining 10 months of its tenure.

This formula has been worked out after a series of prolonged discussion between state leaders and Arun Jaitley, who was entrusted by previous party president Nitin Gadkari to settle the organisational affairs of the state. While Jaitley had virtually worked out the current arrangement, the faction opposed to Raje was said to have initially tried to dig its heels against the decision.

After Singh took over as new BJP president, Jaitley discussed the issue with him on January 27 and stressed the need for central leadership's assertion to settle the issue. Singh, for this purpose, was learnt to have asked Jaitley and Swaraj to persuade the rival factions and "clinch" the solution at the earliest.

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