Rajat Sharma


AKB30 The selection of Bhajan Lal Sharma as the leader of Rajasthan BJP legislature party on Tuesday is surprising because he has been elected MLA for the first time. He contested assembly election from Sanganer and won by a huge margin of more than 48,000 votes. Bhajan Lal Sharma has been working for the organisation for the last twenty years. He has been state party general secretary four times, but nobody expected him to be made chief minister. Diya Kumari and Prem Chand Bairwa were chosen as deputy chief ministers at the meeting, while Vasudev Devnani will be the Speaker. Even till Monday morning, I had precise information that Diya Kumari was supposed to be elected chief minister. At that time, the reason given was that projecting a woman as chief minister after the passage of Women’s Reservation Bill will send the right message to voters. On Tuesday morning, however, caste equations came to the fore. It was decided that a Brahmin be made CM to avoid any controversy and to ensure that the current caste equations remain intact. Diya Kumari belongs to Rajput and Prem Chand Bairwa belongs to Dalit community. There were made deputy chief ministers. While hunting for a Brahmin face, it was found that Bhajan Lal Sharma stood a good chance among the 10 Brahmin MLAs who had been elected. Moreover, as an organisation man, he knows how to keep all the groups together. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh reached Jaipur carrying Prime Minister Modi’s message. He first met Vasundhara Raje and state party chief C P Joshi, and then met BJP MLAs separately. At the legislature party meeting, Rajnath Singh handed over a slip to Vasundhara Raje. The former CM read the slip and remained silent. Two minutes later, she proposed the name of Bhajan Lal Sharma. At that time, Sharma was sitting in the back row. He was the last to reach the meeting, because he had been given the task of receiving all newly elected MLAs and other leaders at the main gate. When his name was announced, Sharma came to the front and acknowledged greetings from all with humility. Outside, BJP workers waiting for the news were surprised. They did not expect that Modi would make a first-time MLA the chief minister. One must know that the same thing had happened to Modi in 2001 in Gujarat. Modi was neither an MLA nor a minister in Gujarat, but he had played a long innings as an organisation man. When Modi became PM in 2014, he had become an MP for the first time. He had never visited Parliament, but by that time, Modi had gained 13 years of experience as a chief minister. Bhajan Lal Sharma had worked with four state party presidents as general secretary. In the last one year, it was he who organized rallies for Modi and Amit Shah in Rajasthan. He has been an old friend of party chief J P Nadda. Sharma toured the entire state and knew each constituency in detail. Though he hails from Bharatpur, he contested from Sanganer and scored a resounding win. By making Sharma as CM, Modi has played a big political gambit. BJP had given tickets to 19 Brahmins in Rajasthan, out of whom, ten won. Brahmins constitute 13 per cent of Rajasthan’s population. Every mainstream party in Rajasthan gives importance to Brahmins. Out of 14 chief ministers in Rajasthan, six have been Brahmin. The last Brahmin CM was 33 years ago. Over the year, there was a feeling that Brahmins are not getting due importance in BJP-ruled states in the North and were being overlooked. Modi has tried to remove that grouse by making Sharma the CM. Secondly, BJP wants to convey the message that under Modi’s leadership, even an ordinary worker can reach the highest post and lead the party or government. Simultaneously, MLAs who were trying to create an atmosphere in their favour, or leaders who were staking claim for CM post, have now being given the right message. There is none in Rajasthan BJP who can oppose Bhajan Lal Sharma, nor any charge can be levelled about one faction being given importance. Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Tuesday claimed that Modi is now “walking on Rahul Gandhi’s path, because CMs in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and MP have been selected keeping caste census in mind”. Congress leaders may continue claiming that Rahul’s demand for caste census is having its effect on BJP, but BJP leaders say something else. They say that Rahul Gandhi is the guarantee of victory for BJP. Bhajan Lal Sharma’s background is very interesting. He sought party ticket from Nadwai in Bharatpur in 2003, but BJP gave the ticket to Jitendra Singh. Bhajan Lal fought as a rebel candidate and got only 5,969 votes. The BJP candidate lost to Deepa Kumari of the local royal family. One can say, this is the first time BJP has made a former rebel as its minister, but Bhajan Lal Sharma later toiled hard for 15 years for the party. He was always in the forefront during party’s agitations during Congress rule. Once while staging protest for State Employees Federation, he was injured during police lathicharge. When the 100th episode of Modi’s Man Ki Baat was broadcast, Bhajan Lal Sharma organized meetings in more than 20,000 places in Rajasthan for people to hear the PM speak. Bhajan Lal used to organize rallies for Modi in Rajasthan. He wanted to contest from Bharatpur this time, but the party asked him to contest from Sanganer. His journey as an ordinary worker to become the chief minister has been long and arduous. Now that he has been entrusted with the big responsibility of running a border state and with the party locked in a direct battle with Congress, the challenge is big. Sharma’s first objective will be to ensure that BJP repeats its 2019 victory by winning all 25 Lok Sabha seats next year, nothing less. This task is not easy to accomplish.


New chief ministers Mohan Yadav and Vishnu Deo Sai have taken oath in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh respectively in the presence of Prime Minister Modi and other top BJP leaders. On Tuesday, outgoing MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan said, “BJP gave me the chair of chief minister for 18 years, the party made me MP, MLA and party general secretary. It is now time for me to return what I got from the party. There is no question of being unhappy. I would rather like to die rather than go to Delhi to seek something more. The party gives responsibility to all after considering all aspects. I will fulfil any responsibility that is given to me.” There was an emotional moment outside his residence on Tuesday when a large number of women called on him and started weeping loudly on his last day as chief minister. Chouhan assured them that the promises made to women will be fulfilled by the party and government. It will not be correct to say that Chouhan is not unhappy because he has not been made the CM, but he knows his party. Even if any leader feels hurt, there is no tradition in the party to express it publicly. For nearly 20 years, Chouhan dominated Madhya Pradesh politics. I would rather say that what Chouhan said on Tuesday was in all humility. He accepted the favours that he got from the party with gratitude. He mentioned how Modi played a big role in ensuring a big victory in Madhya Pradesh. Shivraj Chouhan knows Modi’s style of working. He knows nobody gets anything by merely asking for favours from Modi. It is Modi who decides everybody’s role. It is Modi who will decide Shivraj Singh’s future role. The same applies for Vasundhara Raje. She is also an experienced leader with vast administrative experience. She was the party’s supreme leader in Rajasthan for a long time. Like Chouhan, Vasundhara too wants to stay in her state, but it is not in her hands. One can normally say that both of them can be brought to the Centre and the government can gain from their experience. Modi understands the importance of experienced leaders. He respects their contribution. When the names of chief ministers were announced in MP and Rajasthan, full respect was accorded to both Vasundhara and Chouhan. The consent of both was taken before the announcement. The names of the new CMs were proposed by the two former CMs. These two leaders will not be asked to stay at home, but it will be futile to speculate on their future roles now as to how they will be used during 2024 LS campaign. We will came to know this only when it is formally announced.

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