There were three bypolls before this…where was she?: Kataria on Raje’s absence from campaigns

While speaking to reporters in Jhunjhunu district on Saturday, Kataria was asked about Raje's absence in the run-up to the bypolls.

Weeks after the BJP lost bypolls to two Assembly seats in Rajasthan, leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria on Saturday questioned former chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s absence from campaigning for the seats.

While speaking to reporters in Jhunjhunu district on Saturday, Kataria was asked about Raje’s absence in the run-up to the bypolls. “Dekho, star pracharak ye to ek waise hi naam chal pada hai. Mai sochta hun isse pehle wale teen chunav hue, usme vasundhara ji kahan gayi thi? (See, star campaigner is just a name which is in circulation. I feel that there were three elections before this (recently-concluded by-elections), where did Vasundhara ji go?” he said.

However, he gave no indication that Raje’s absence was linked to the bypoll loss. He blamed candidate selection for the poor showing.

The ruling Congress won bypolls to both seats – Vallabhnagar and Dhariawad. Since 2019, the BJP has won one one of seven bypolls in the state

Responding to allegations by the Congress of growing factionalism in the BJP’s state unit, Kataria said, “The BJP has never got involved in internal feuds, never will. It is because here, decisions are taken collectively and not by one person. In this party, an individual is not important but the ideology is. That is why there can’t be any tussle.”

Reacting to a question about BJP leaders including former MLAs Bhawani Singh Rajawat and Prahlad Gunjal talking about Raje being made the face of the party in Rajasthan, Kataria said that they should show their “loyalty”.

Last month, reacting to questions about her reduced political activity, Raje, a two-time chief minister, had cited the illness of the daughter-in-law.

Recently, reports have been circulating in the state’s political circles that several leaders including state BJP president Satish Poonia, leader of opposition Kataria, deputy leader of opposition Rajendra Rathore and Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat are eying the CM’s post.

While responding to a question on leaders who were eyeing the CM’s post, she had also said that it doesn’t happen “just by wishing so” and only that person who gets the love of all communities will get to rule.

Loyalist MLAs of Raje and other BJP leaders who support her have expressed their dissatisfaction over the current state leadership more than once. In January, several persons claiming to be supporters of Raje had floated an outfit named Vasundhara Raje Samarthak Manch Rajasthan (VRSMR), with its office bearers saying that they want to see Raje become the Chief Minister for the third time after the 2023 Assembly elections.

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