Raje seeks to cash in on Modi’s popularity

The rising graph of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has changed the internal arithmetic of the saffron party in Rajasthan. The state BJP under the stewardship of former chief minister Vasundhara Raje sided with Mr Modi and on its way to cash in latter’s popularity to garner public support. The party sources said Mr Modi will be star campaigner in Rajasthan.

The sources said most of the saffron leaders from the state switched their allegiance to Mr Modi due to changed scenario. The party leaders anticipated it much before Mr Modi’s anointment in Goa and have already started pleasing him. The state BJP president, Ms Raje, had made three visits to Gujarat in recent months and called on the Gujarat chief minister.
According to sources, the BJP leaders known for their loyalty to L.K. Advani shifted their camps and started praising Mr Modi. “You can see party leaders never forget to mention Mr Modi as star in BJP’s ongoing Suraj Yatra, even Ms Raje always cites Gujarat model for development at her public meetings during the yatra,” said an observer.
The state BJP indicated that Mr Modi will be the star attraction in the mammoth rally in Jaipur when the Suraj Yatra concludes. In a bid to foil any consolidation of minority votes, the BJP leaders were paying extra attention on Muslims and deputed a band of saffron leaders to woo Muslims. It could be seen when Muslim men and burqa-clad women were seen at the BJP’s public gatherings.
The BJP has two Muslim MLAs while ruling Congress has 10 legislators on its side. The BJP given four tickets to Muslims in last Assembly elections while the Congress fielded 17 Muslims candidates in last Assembly elections. Rajasthan has more than 8 per cent Muslim population. The BJP also raised the issue of violence at Gopalgarh in 2011, which claimed 10 lives.
The sources said when the BJP was in power in Rajasthan in 2003 and 2008, there were differences between Gujarat BJP leaders and senior leaders from Rajasthan. Because when Gujarat released its water from Narmada for Rajasthan’s Jalore district, both respective governments organised separate functions.
“Instead a joint function, the Gujarat government had its function at Tharad in Gujarat and Mr Modi was chief guest while Ms Raje addressed the water dedication ceremony at Lalpur in Jalore on March 28, 2008,” said a source close to the BJP.

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