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Generation change and empowering grassroot worker was Modi-Shah’s strategy in choosing Bhajan Lal Sharma as Rajasthan CM: Dr Chandra

Analysing the recent appointment of BJP’s new leadership in Rajasthan, Dr. Jagdeesh Chandra lays bare the real reason for first time MLA Bhajan Lal Sharma’s elevation to the coveted post of Chief Minister, how PM Modi took a confident and brave call in making a grassroot worker as the top leader of the state, how Brahmin leaders have the reins of Rajasthan politics in BJP, how Bhajan Lal’s elevation has brought an end to groupism in BJP and how Diya Kumari and Dr Premchand Bairwa’s elevation to Deputy CM is a well thought out social engineering move. Excerpts... (Part 1)

  • What is your take on Bhajan Lal Sharma’s appointment as Chief Minister of Rajasthan?
    Dr Jagdeesh Chandra:
    The first message of this move is generation change, transfer of power from old guards to young generation and replacement of senior most legislator with one time MLA Bhajan Lal Sharma. As such, if autumn does not come, then how will the new leaves flourish? Hence it is being believed that today Sharma is like a gush of fresh air in Rajasthan’s politics as of today and thus everyone is welcoming him. And what is even more exciting is that senior most leader in the opposition party Congress - Ashok Gehlot - has held out an olive branch towards Sharma and stressed that he will work together for the betterment of Rajasthan and to take the state to number one position in the nation. The second message is giving respect and honour to the worker. A worker who started from the grass root and reached to this height, was made President of the Yuva Morcha several times, was district president of the party as well. Several times I saw that he would stand outside of airport to receive party bigwigs. Presidents kept on changing in the party but he stayed in his lane. He has been general secretary of the party and has been an all-in-one party worker who has worked hard on the grassroots also. It is because of this that he has been given this honour. There is yet another reason for his elevation to the post of Chief Minister and that is Brahmin sentiment. Although CP Joshi is already BJP Chief of Rajasthan but still a CM is a CM. It is after a long time that Rajasthan has seen a Brahmin CM whose impact could be seen in 2024 Lok Sabha election. In fact there is another factor to this development. It is now that Rajasthan has double-engine government in the true sense of the word. No work will get halted now and there will be no dearth of resources. Economy is weak here and with BJP coming to power, there is a ray of hope for Rajasthan. Furthermore, it is believed that groupism will end in the state and the administration which has been moving in the same way for the past two and a half decades, will also change. So overall this is a good experiment and a welcoming change. In totality, this is PM Narendra Modi’s gift to Sharma and a brave experiment on his part to bring a general party worker to the highest position of administration. Hence the efforts of Modi, Shah and Nadda should be praised.
  • Did Bhajan Lal Sharma have any inclination or prior knowledge that he may be appointed as Rajasthan CM?
    Perhaps he did not know. And even if he had, he would not have known the exact bit. People do assess the situation based on reasoning. I learnt that when PM Modi had come to Jaipur and during that time he met Amit Shah while returning back to Delhi. After this meeting, Shah called Bhajan Lal to his hotel room and told him that he will win. Since it was a challenge for Sharma to win election from Sanganer, so he thought that Shah’s words were in regard to his contest in Sanganer. But now if we see that line in hindsight, that Shah’s words were in context of making Sharma the CM. So one can not say that he had prior knowledge about it, but he may have felt that he has top leadership’s blessings and perhaps he would be made a minister. But it was his luck and fortune and instead of a minister, he became Chief Minister and that too with complete consensus.
  • Sanganer seat has been a hot seat of Jaipur since on one side was Pushpendra Bhardwaj who worked night and day over the past few years and then there was former Sanganer MLA Ashok Lahoty from BJP who is also a well known face in the region. How did then Bhajan Lal Sharma manage to ensure victory by such a huge margin?
    Like is said, his own confidence and Narendra Modi’s rally in Jaipur that brought about a change in situation which benefitted Sharma. Basically, PM Modi’s face worked in Bhajan Lal’s favour and he won the election by forty eight thousand votes when there was suspicion if he would win the poll or not. On the last day, Dr. Jitendra Singh campaigned for Bhajan Lal in Sanganer and at that time he said that BJP is in a comfortable position and will win easily in Sanganer. Although there could have been internal politics of BJP in Sharma’s candidature but Ashok Lahoty was taking part in campaigning. But with a hard working Congress worker Pushpendra Bhardwaj being on one side, if Sharma has come out victorious it shows that entire RSS and group of BJP workers were with Sharma and were confident of his victory. And as such it was party workers giving honour to Sharma which translated in people voting in his favour.
  • It is being said in BJP that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has changed the meaning of rows. What does this mean?
    It means that Bhajan Lal Sharma was seated in the third row in of the party, but PM Modi has brought him in the first row! And this work can be done only by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah which is a revolutionary change. A first time MLA, who was siting in the last row of MLAs and to make him the CM, was a bold move.
  • Even after Amit Shah’s word of caution, it is being said that there still exist some small groups or camps in Rajasthan BJP. Which camp does the new CM is considered of being belonging to?
    It can be said that all groupism and camp politics have been obliterated with Bhajan Lal Sharma’s elevation to post of CM since he is a consensus face. So the question is which group is Bhajanlal close to? Truth be told there is no group or camp related issue with him. But he has a political guru in Om Birla and as a result On Birla’s supporters were extremely elated in Kota. Bhajanlal keeps learning from Birla. Secondly, he has a good relationship with JP Nadda and the duo share good understanding as well. When JP Nadda visited Jaipur, Bhajan Lal met him and Nadda questioned about his well being and election campaigning. Thirdly, there is a power centre in Rajasthan BJP by the name of Chandrashekhar and Sharma has a good relation with him as well. So if you look at it, there is Om Birla, who is not in active politics but is in the role of a Guru, then there is JP Nadda and thereafter there is Chandrashekhar. Interestingly, Vasundhara camp is claiming that JP Nadda and Arun Singh played the game to make Sharma the CM. The last role and last deci-sion in this regard was made by Narendra Modi because he is the one who takes the final call.
  • Social engineering matters a lot in politics. If we talk about Rajasthan, both party president and Chief Minister are from the Brahmin community. What type of social engineering is this?
    It so happens sometime. CP Joshi comes from Brahmin community and is state party chief. Perhaps some change happens in the days to come and may be some talks are going on to give him a major responsibility somewhere. In one way, you can say that this is double engine government in Brahmin community. Some people believe that Kailash Choudhary may be given the reins in the next few days, but I do not think it will be so since 2024 elections are round the corner, hence change is not something that can happen. So Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and JP Nadda much have thought a lot before this social engineering move. And I don’t think there will be any change in the near future. Brahmin CM will take oath on December 15 and CP Joshi is working in the field on his post as he has the responsibility to bring twenty five Lok Sabha seats in 2024 election. It may look like an anomaly but there is no such thing. The only anomaly that is existing today is that all three leaders, CM and two deputy CM are from Jaipur and near about since both Diya Kumari and Premchand Bairwa are from here. Perhaps in the days to come, when the cabinet is formed, Modi and Shah may balance it out, but as of now two top Brahmin faces of state have the reins of the state.
  • But what caused the confusion in announcement of Deputy CMs’ names?
    Even I could not understand how it came to be. Perhaps some one gave a wrong briefing or the media did not understand what the party said. But BJP’s working is carried out so perfectly that such mistakes do not happen. See, at first the names of Kailash Choudhary and Anita Bhadel were taken and then Diya Kumari and Premchand Bairwa’s names were announced. This was bizzare and perhaps there was some communication gap somewhere. It should not have happened but it happened nonetheless. This does not suit the image of BJP.
  • What is the background in making Diya Kumari & Dr Premchand Bairwa’s as Deputy CM?
    Truth be told, Diya Kumari is one of the most popular faces in Rajasthan BJP. She was to become a central minister about one and a half years back, but no one knows what happened at the last minute that she was not made a central minister. She has had a good communication and relation with PM Modi, Amit Shah and RSS leadership. Now it is being questioned as to why is she being made deputy CM? What I think is that BJP is trying to find a proper and popular replacement for Vasundhara Raje. Perhaps that is why it is said that she is much like Raje in that she is well educated, converses in English and belongs to a royal family. But with Vasundhara still active in politics, she can not become CM today. But to reach that position, she has take the first step and undergo that training. Few years back, I received an invite to attend Diya Kumari’s birthday. When I reached the venue, I was surprised to find thousands of people lining up to meet her and with great difficulty I could meet her. When I returned from the program, I forecast then that a young Vasundhara Raje is born in Rajasthan. This was four years back. Today she won by seventy one thousand votes and people say it was a safe seat. But she won from Sawai Madhopur and Rajsamand too. Where ever she contests from she will win. Rajput sentiment is with her and since a few developments have happened in Rajasthan hence that sentiment has also played a role. Thirdly, so many rape cases have happened in Rajasthan over the past few years that PM Modi and Amit Shah have become perturbed with the situation. So, as a message of women empowerment she has been elevated to this position. Apart from this, regarding Premchand Bairwa, he has been given the position owing to creating a balance in caste politics. He has defeated Congress candidate in the past and this time he defeated Babulal Nagar who has a good grasp in the field. Everyone thought Nagar would win but the theory of regional CM perhaps resulted in his loss. So through Bairwa, a message has been given to Dalits.

TO BE CONTINUED…

During the show #JConRajasthanNewCM trended top All-India on Twitter

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