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Talking about the recent appointment of a new CM in Rajasthan, Dr Chandra reveals how the entire ‘operation’ was done under secrecy, how both Modi and Shah value secrecy till the mission is completed and why Rajnath Singh was chosen as the observer to Rajasthan. Dr Chandra also reveals how the new Assembly Speaker Vasudev Devnani may find a challenge waiting for him in the new Assembly, how the Raje factor may have been more or less sorted, how BJP has written new dimensions about social engineering, why the party favoured local MLAs over seasoned leaders from the Union Cabinet and how Raje might have felt sad after not being made the CM

  • Apart from the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Ministers, BJP also announced the name of Vasudev Devnani as the Assembly Speaker. With so many senior Congress leaders and fiery leader Hanuman Beniwal also sitting in Opposition, how difficult will it be for Devnani to run the House?
    Dr Jagdeesh Chandra: The best part about Devnani and perhaps what sets him apart as a leader is his politeness and coordination. He meets everyone in a welcoming manner, which, in a true sense, is the role of a RSS worker. He has won five elections and has been a legislator for twenty years. Apart from this, he does not belong to any particular camp and focuses on his work. So his politeness will work for him in the Assembly. As far as handling Opposition leaders like Ashok Gehlot, Congress MLAs and Hanuman Beniwal, well there will be some challenges and during that time CM will remember Rajendra Rathore that had he been there in the House, he would have given a counter to the Opposition and manage the situation. But when the challenges present themselves, the government and party will face them. So it should be understood that Bhajanlal Sharma and his team will give a befitting reply to Congress MLAs in the House.
  • How did Rajnath Singh announce the name of the new Chief Minister in the legislative party meeting? Was he informed about the choice via a text during the meeting or was he handed an envelope containing the name of the CM to be?
    Well the tradition in BJP is that either a text or an envelope is handed. We were of the idea that after the legislative meeting at 4 pm, he would get a text from the high command informing him of the decision. But I believe that he was handed a slip in a sealed envelope because I noticed in a video that Vasundhara Raje was seated adjacent to Rajnath Singh and Raje was holding a slip. Obviously, Raje must have been given that slip by Rajnath since Vasundhara is a senior leader and in good faith he must have given it to her. She saw the name on the slip and surprised by the choice, she immediately looked at Rajnath who was addressing the legislators. So I believe that he had reached Jaipur with the slip with him.
  • What was the strategy behind sending a senior politician like Rajnath Singh as the observer to Jaipur? Also, do you think the Vasundhara Raje factor has been sorted completely?
    Well, Rajnath Singh is a senior leader of the party. But it sometimes happens that lack of communication or miscommunication leads to difficult situations and in Rajathan’s situation, perhaps the top leadership thought that it is better to avoid it. People say that there could have been some apprehension that Vasundhara Raje may object or she may not second the proposal for the new CM etc. Such apprehensions come up because the brief that is forwarded to Delhi is not the correct brief. So Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari are considered close to Raje politically and so Rajnath Singh was sent and he came and carried out the job perfectly. He held a one-to-one talk with Raje at the airport and in good faith showed the slip to her just before the announcement of the name which shows mutual respect. As far as sorting out of Vasundhara Raje factor is concerned, it is a million-dollar question. We can’t really be sure of it because reading Raje’s face, it seems that this move did not go well with her. So it will take some time before it is realised if this factor has been sorted or not. But I think ultimately everything will get sorted as this is a disciplined party and she too is working as per the party lines. So I don’t really see any major issues.
  • Narendra Modi and Amit Shah gave yet another surprise in naming Bhajanlal as CM. What is your take on it?
    They enjoy giving such surprises. Modi is a master of branding and there is no match to him anywhere in the world. Look at the curiosity they created regarding who will be the CM. Be it a hotelier or a street vendor, everyone is concerned about who will be the CM. But what do these have to do with who becomes CM? However, Modi and Shah created curiosity across the nation about the BJP and its CMs and it seems they quite enjoy it.
  • Do you think BJP leadership is obsessed with the idea of secrecy?
    I wouldn’t call it an obsession but they are particular that what is being decided upon should not be leaked before time. I will tell you about an episode with Amit Shah. When he became party chief a few years back, he went to his office and chaired a meeting with general secretaries. During this, he asked about the issues related to the party to which one of them informed him that talks and discussions that happen in closed circles get leaked due to which party’s plan gets disturbed as they get leaked in the media. Shah asked the participants of the meeting to refrain, even if they had ever done so in the past. So this was a warning. A few days after this incid e n t , an important meeting of the parliamentary board was held and during this time Sushma Swaraj was alive. But the decisions of this meeting were revealed in a media report when those decisions were for the consumption of just the board. Shah is a masterful manager and he found out who was behind the leak so he met Sushma Swaraj and asked her not to say no that she had a hand in giving the info. Sushma denied doing any such thing and so in response, Shah said that the leadership could let go of this once or twice, but if it happens a third time, he can get the entire board changed immediately. Well, this is what party discipline is all about and that is why Amit Shah is considered a hard taskmaster. Logically too, be it junior or senior, a party’s discipline is what takes precedence over everything. Anyhow, in the evening both Arun Jaitley and Venkaiyah Naidu called Shah and informed him that Sushma Swaraj was not too happy about the developments. In response, Shah said that half his work was already done because of this phone call and also advised both these leaders to be careful. It is Amit Shah’s open challenge to journalists to find out any bit of info from his office because he is that confident about his work culture. Thus, neither did anyone get to know about the abrogation of Article 370, nor did anyone ever come to know of who would be inducted into the Cabinet etc. His working style keeps the government at the top and that is how government should be run. Now look at the curiosity created in Rajasthan. Why was it so? Because of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s working style secrecy is paramount and decisions should not be leaked.
  • With Vishnu Deo Sai as CM in Chhatisgarh, Mohan Yadav in MP and Bhajan Lal in Rajasthan, what message does the high command want to give to the masses?
    The BJP leadership is making efforts regarding social engineering and attracting various castes and communities towards it. Look at Chhatisgarh where a tribal leader has been made CM along with two deputy CMs from the general and OBC category while Dr Raman Singh, from the general community, has been made the Speaker. See what happened in Chhatisgarh. RSS has a wing that works with tribals in Chhatisgarh where they have been divided into Hindu and Christian tribals. Obviously, the RSS wing stood with Hindu tribals and during campaigning such polarisation happened that out of the twenty-something seats on which Congress used to win in the state’s tribal belt, the majority of seats were won by the BJP. This victory was possible due to social engineering and it is due to this aspect that BJP has opted for a tribal CM. Moreover, the BJP’s image has been that of a party of Brahmin, Baniyas and general castes. Furthermore, the narrative has been that it has always been indifferent towards SC/STs, OBCs, Muslims etc. But now BJP has also included these left-out sections and is strategically expanding its influence within these communities as part of a comprehensive strategy.
  • In all these three states, instead of giving reins to any central minister, the party has favoured local MLAs and made them CM and deputy CM. What is the strategy behind this move?
    This actually is a good move on Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s part to promote local talent and young talent, to promote grassroots talent and also to promote the sentiment of democracy that every person should get a chance. A message has gone across the nation that organisational workers can be given the position of Chief Minister. This move has also given a ray of hope to all the BJP MLAs that when Bhajan Lal can become the CM, they too someday can become a Chief Minister. So this is a huge message that they have given by making a first-time MLA the Chief Minister and it is a welcome move.
  • According to you, what went through Vasundhara Raje’s mind when she became the proposer for the new CM in Rajasthan?
    This is an emotional question. Raje is a human being and like any other human, she too was hopeful of becoming CM for the third time. And there were reasons for this too. About a week ago she met Amit Shah and the talks between them were held in a good atmosphere. In fact, Raje was visibly happier after this meeting than she has ever been in the past three years and it was believed that an understanding was reached that everyone will work together. So perhaps she interpreted this as she would be getting a chance. A human being does hope that good will befall them. But it was not so, rather in the name of discipline, she had to become a proposer for the new CM. It was her nobility, but it was a sad and disappointing moment for Vasundhara Raje.

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

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