Last Updated: December 12, 2023, 20:55 IST
Bhajanlal Sharma has been with the party organisation in Rajasthan for almost two decades. (PTI)
Rajasthan: The BJP fielded Bhajan Lal Sharma, not a part of the Vasundhara Raje or Gajendra Shekhawat camp, for the first time in an assembly election, not from his home district of Bharatpur, but from its strong and safe seat of Sanganer in Jaipur
When the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) decided to field Bhajanlal Sharma for the first time in an assembly election, it did not give him a ticket from his home district of Rajasthan’s Bharatpur. Instead, the party chose its strong seat of Sanganer in Jaipur, a safe seat which the BJP has not lost in the past two decades. The BJP denied its sitting MLA Ashok Lahoty the ticket from Sanganer as well.
Does it show that there was perhaps always a plan in place to choose Sharma as the Chief Minister? Sharma has been with the party organization in Rajasthan for almost two decades with some describing him as the longest serving general secretary in the party. Someone who has been a sort of a crisis manager when it came to organization disputes and being the sane voice in the room. The 56-year-old Sharma is also seen as a soft-spoken non-confrontational leader who has always toed the party line. He is also not seen as belonging to any of the party leader camps in Rajasthan – be it the Vasundhara Raje camp or the Gajendra Shekhawat camp.
Being an upper-caste Brahmin, Sharma’s choice also reflects the BJP’s desire to accommodate all major caste groups in its Chief Ministerial choices in the three states – after making a tribal leader Vishnu Deo Sai (59) as the CM in Chhattisgarh and an OBC in Mohan Yadav (58) as the Chief Minister in Madhya Pradesh. The message in all three choices is also to go for a next-generational leadership aged between 55 and 60 – Sharma is 56 years old. By doing this, the BJP has also moved on from its tried and tested long-time leaders and CMs like Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Raman Singh and Vasundhara Raje who are all aged between 64 and 71.
By choosing Deputy CMs in Jaipur royal Diya Kumari, who is a Rajput, and Prem Chand Bairwa, a Dalit leader, the BJP has also perfected the caste combination in Rajasthan where the upper-castes, Rajputs and Dalits have backed the party in the present elections. Diya Kumari is seen as a successor of Vasundhara Raje in the mould of a woman leader and she is a second-time MLA and has been an MP too. All three leaders, who have little administrative experience, however face the challenge of handling a tough state like Rajasthan with complex caste equations and issues of law and order and paper leaks have dominated the narrative in these elections.
Will Bhajanlal Sharma be able to tide over this challenge and prove his worth to the top BJP leadership, and especially deliver the 25 Lok Sabha seats of the state to his party after five months. The task is cut out for him.