Rajasthan: political history

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Assembly building

Rajasthan MLAs fear assembly is 'haunted'

February 23, 2018: The Times of India


Legislators in Rajasthan believe that the House never retains its maximum strength of 200 members for long.

They have blamed the‘evil spirits’ for member resignations, arrests and untimely death.

Some of the lawmakers have even shared their fears with CM Raje & urged her to call priests to pacify the ‘buri aatma’.

Call it superstition or the fear of death. Legislators in the state are beginning to suspect that the Rajasthan assembly is haunted by spirits. The lawmakers believe that the House never retains its maximum strength of 200 members for long, either because one or the other member resigns, goes to jail or has an untimely death. And they blame it on ‘evil spirits’.

In fact, some of them have even shared their fears with chief minister Vasundhara Raje and urged her to call priests or clerics to pacify the ‘buri aatma’. A priest was spotted performing rituals near the assembly’s entrance on Thursday.

The demise of sitting BJP MLA from Singh Chouhan on Tuesday night has revived the belief and the fears of legislators who have been demanding measures to control the supernatural.

Last year, BJP MLA from Mandalgarh Kirti Kumari had succumbed to swine flu. Before that, BSP MLA B L Kushwah was jailed for murder. In the last assembly, Congress MLAs Mahipal Maderna, Malkhan Singh Bishnoi and Babu Lal Nagar were jailed on charges like murder and rape.

And yet, the superstitious MLAs fear all this is happening because the assembly building has been built by covering part of a cremation ground. Barely 200 metres from the building there still stands the Lal Kothi Moksh Dham (cremation ground).

The present assembly building, which is spread over nearly 17 acres and located close to the SMS Stadium, was built between November 1994 and March 2001. Before that, the state assembly was housed in the old city’s Sawai Man Singh Town Hall that was built around 1884.

BJP MLA from Nagaur Habibur Rahman said, “The land over which the new building has been built was earlier used as a graveyard or for cremation and garbage ground where god knows what all used to be dumped. People must have buried bodies of children too here. Evil spirits usually roam around such places.”

The five-term MLA, who has been a minister too, said he was part of the committee that surveyed the land when the then CM Bhairon Singh Shekhawat sanctioned Rs 5 crore to build the new assembly building here. “To address my concerns about it being a graveyard/cremation land, they got some temples built in the vicinity,” Rahman said.

“When madam (Raje) asked us yesterday (Wednesday) why is this happening (untimely deaths of Chouhan and Kumari), I told her about this place’s past. I suggested that ‘yajna’ be performed or a ‘maulana’ be called to purify the place. It is in our culture. If we build at some wrong place, we can be freed through prayers and offerings,” he added.

Government chief whip Kalu Lal Gurjar said, “It’s true this assembly building has not had a full strength of 200 members for long. The untimely deaths of MLAs Chouhan and Kumari have worried us and we cannot help but think about the graveyard/cremation ground that was here. I believe that spirits can do bad. We spoke to the CM and she has assured us to do something about it.”

Scions of erstwhile ruling families


Suparna Roy , Dec 4, 2023: The Times of India

Royal wins for scions of erstwhile princely states

Jaipur : The charm and influence of royals in Rajasthan remains undiminished, with all five scions of erstwhile princely states fielded by BJP romping home, most of them by handsome margins. The lone ex-royal candidate of Congress, however, bit the dust, reports Suparna Roy.
Leading BJP’s victory march were former CM Vasundhara Raje and CM contender Diya Kumari from Jhalrapatan and Vidyadhar Nagar assembly seats, respectively.

Rajsamand MP Diya Kumari, who belongs to the Jaipur royal family, triumphed over her Congress rival Sitaram Agarwal by 71,368 votes, one of the highest victory margins in the state.
Raje retained her bastion for the sixth time, beating her rival by 53,193 votes.

Siddhi Kumari, erstwhile princess of Bikaner, who has been winning Bikaner East for BJP since 2008, secured the seat once again, defeating Yashpal Gehlot of Congress by a margin of 19,303 votes.

Vishvendra Singh of the Bharatpur royal family, who was defending the Deeg-Kumher seat for Congress, lost by 7,895 votes.

Recognising caste

Allotting land to caste groups

Ajaysingh Ugras, Raje revives Cong policy, to allot land on caste lines, October 12, 2017: The Times of India

 With assembly elections in Rajasthan just about a year away , the Vasundhra Raje government has cleared the proposal to allot land to various castes and communities at concessional rates.

These allotments were initially made by the Congress government in 2013 just ahead of the last assembly elections but were cancelled by the state government under Raje saying they were “misuse of public land“.

The Congress government had allotted 61 plots of land in various cities in the state for community purposes at just five 5% of the land cost. The BJP government, however, said it was yet to decide the rate at which the land will be re-allotted.

The current state cabinet's decision to take a Uturn on its earlier stand and give a green signal for caste-based land allotment has come close on the heels of giving nod to the luxury residential complex, Palacia, after cancelling it initially.

“The cabinet has decided to allot land to various castes and communities.We have been receiving demands from these sections for a long time,“ urban development and housing (UDH) minister Shrichand Kriplani said.

A senior UDF official said, of 61 allotments, most (35) will be made in Kota district. “We will provide land to various organisations at six locations in Jaipur,“ he said.


1962-the 2020s

Shyamlal Yadav, Nov 23, 2023: The Indian Express

Rajasthan is a unique state in several ways. Here is an overview of its political history, where the last quarter century has been dominated by two leaders — the Congress party's Ashok Gehlot and the BJP's Vasundhara Raje.

Rajasthan, the largest state by area, has had only three Chief Ministers in the last 33 years and six (not counting one who was in the post for just 15 days) in 50; has produced hung Assemblies but the largest party has always managed a majority; and has never witnessed a government collapse, even though its CMs have been dismissed on three occasions.

And since 1993, when Bhairon Singh Shekhawat of the BJP returned as Chief Minister, power has always alternated between the Congress and BJP.

Today, Rajasthan has a unicameral legislature of 200 seats, 34 of which are reserved for the Scheduled Castes and 25 for the Scheduled Tribes. It has 25 seats in Lok Sabha (including three reserved for SCs and 4 for STs), and 10 in Rajya Sabha.

A history of close polls…

Assembly elections have frequently produced a small or a near majority for one or the other party. In 1962, the Congress won 88 seats in the 176-member House; amid the anti-Congress wave of 1967, it won 89 seats out of 184.

In 1990, the BJP and V P Singh’s Janata Dal had an alliance — the BJP won 85 seats out of 200, and formed the government with support from the Janata Dal’s 55 MLAs. In 1993, the BJP won 95, and reached close to a majority. In 2008 and 2018, the Congress won 96 and 100 seats respectively in the 200-member Assembly.

But the single largest party has traditionally managed to pull together the required numbers. In 1967, the Congress won 89 out of 194, but Mohan Lal Sukhadia ultimately formed the government; Shekhawat and Ashok Gehlot did the same in 1993 and 2008 respectively.

…And of sweeping wins

The Congress won clear majorities in 1972 (when it swept 145 of 184 seats), 1980 (133 of 200), and 1985 (113 of 200), and the Janata Party in 1977 (152 out of 200 seats). In 1998 the Congress won 153 out of 200.

The BJP’s best show was in 2013 (163 out 200). In 2003 it won 120 out of 200.

Elected governments were dismissed thrice by central governments of the day. In 1977, the Morarji Desai government dismissed Haridev Joshi’s Congress government in Rajasthan, and Shekhawat was sacked twice — by Indira Gandhi in 1980, and P V Narasimha Rao in 1992 after the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

Rise of BJP in Rajasthan

L K Advani started out as an R S S pracharak in Alwar before being sent to the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), which was formed in 1951. Shekhawat was first elected MLA in 1952, and was for long the biggest leader of the BJP in the state. Thanks to Shekhawat, Rajasthan was the only state among the four whose governments were dismissed in 1992, where the BJP returned to power in 1993.

Sundar Singh Bhandari and Satish Agarwal were prominent leaders of the Sangh in the state. Jaswant Singh and Ramdas Agrawal were prominent BJP leaders at the national level.

In 1952, the BJS won only 6 seats, but its influence increased steadily over the next two decades. From the 1990s onward, the BJP strengthened itself rapidly, and reached a peak of 163 seats in 2013. The Congress, which weakened during the same period, was reduced to 21 seats in that election, its lowest tally ever.

Third force, fleeting impact

From time to time, a third political force and influential non-Congress, non-BJP leaders have emerged in the state, only to disappear or be subsumed in one of the two major parties.

C Rajagopalachari’s Swatantra Party won 36 seats in the 176-member Assembly in 1962, and 48 out of 184 in 1967. Until the 1990s, the Janata Dal had several important leaders like Kalyan Singh Kalvi, Devi Singh Bhati, and Rajendra Singh Rathore.

Rathore is now the BJP Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, and Jagdeep Dhankhar, now Vice President of India, moved from the Janata Dal to the Congress and ultimately to the BJP.

In 2018, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had 6 MLAs, all of whom later joined the Congress.

Important Chief Ministers

Elections in the state are straight fights between the Congress and BJP, which have been dominated by Gehlot and Vasundhara Raje respectively, alternating CMs since 1998. Gehlot has been the face of his party in the state, and no rival apart from Sachin Pilot in the last few years has succeeded in weakening him. Vasundhara, who assumed office in 2003 with the blessings of then Vice President Shekhawat and the late Pramod Mahajan, remains the tallest leader of the BJP in the state, even though she has been systematically sidelined over the last five years.

The longest-serving Chief Minister has been Sukhadia of the Congress, who served for more than 16 years and 6 months, followed by Gehlot, who is approaching the end of three full terms in power. Shekhawat and Vasundhara have both served for more than 10 years each. In an earlier era, Haridev Joshi and H L Devpura were CMs for more than 6 years and more than 5 years respectively.

Sukhadia, Gehlot, Shekhawat, and Vasundhara have ruled the state for more than 51 years among themselves.

Caste groups in power

Gehlot is an OBC Mali. Vasundhara was born a Maratha who married into a royal family of Jats, and her daughter-in-law is from the Gujjar community. However, for all practical purposes, every royal in Rajasthan, including Vasundhara, is considered to be a “Rajput”.

Of the state’s 14 CMs since Independence, five have been Brahmins, two Vaishyas (Sukhadia and Devpura), and a Kayastha (Shiv Charan Mathur), a Muslim (Barkatullah Khan), and a Rajput (Shekhawat) each. The state has seen prominent Jat leaders in Nathuram Mirdha, Ram Niwas Mirdha, and Parasram Maderna, but no Jat has ever been CM.

Jagannath Pahadia, who served as CM for a little more than a year in 1980-81, belonged to an SC. He was elevated to the post by Indira at a time when Jagjivan Ram had quit the Congress, and she was looking for an SC leader who could be projected at the national level. Pahadia lost his post after he made a comment on the poetry of Mahadevi Verma that annoyed Indira.

More than 17% of Rajasthan’s population are SCs, according to the 2011 Census. STs are more than 13%, but no ST has been Rajasthan CM yet.


By-elections: BJP lost 12-21% of vote share

Bhanupratap Singh, In Raj, BJP lost 12-21% of vote share, February 3, 2018: The Times of India

The fall in BJP’s vote share in the bypolls for one assembly and two Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan, where it received a drubbing by Congress, ranged between 21% and 12%, signalling an uphill battle for CM Vasundhara Raje as the state heads for polls later this year.

The biggest fall in vote share was in the Alwar parliamentary constituency, where BJP’s vote share dropped from 61% in 2014 to 40%. In the Ajmer parliamentary seat, BJP’s vote share dropped from 56% to 44%. In the Mandalgarh assembly seat, BJP’s vote share nosedived from 52% in 2013 to 32% now.

Anger among Meos on account of Pehlu Khan’s lynching by alleged cow vigilantes was one of the factors for Congress’s surge in vote share in Alwar.

Rajasthan relaxes two-child policy for govt staff

July 19, 2018: The Times of India

The Rajasthan Cabinet, in a meeting chaired by CM Vasundhara Raje, relaxed the two-child policy for state government employees, deleting the clause entailing compulsory retirement on birth of the third child.

The state goes to polls in 2018 to elect a new assembly.

The Cabinet has given permission for amendments in pension laws and other such norms in this context, parliamentary affairs minister Rajendra Rathore said. He said 13 proposals for investment of Rs 6,000 crore in the state were approved, adding the projects will generate thousands of jobs.

Rift in BJP widens, party’s Muslim face quits

Shoeb Khan, November 14, 2018: The Times of India

The rift in BJP over ticket distribution widened, with party’s Muslim face in Rajasthan, Habib Ur Rehman, quitting after being denied ticket. The denial of ticket to any Muslim candidate left BJP state Minority Morcha running for cover. The Morcha has sought 10-12 seats, like Puskhar, Kaman, Tijara, Deedwana, Nagaur, Aadarsh Nagar, Mandawa, Kota North, Tonk, Barmer and Jaisalmer and Sikar, for Muslim candidates.

In 2013, two Muslim candidates – including Rehman — won elections on BJP tickets. This time, Rehman was replaced by Mohanram Chaudhary following BJP’s insistence, sources said. Rehman, the MLA from Muslim-dominated Nagaur Assembly seat, is likely to join Congress. Miffed over being denied tickets, supporters of at least 20 leaders protested outside the state BJP headquarters in Jaipur and party’s district offices. Supporters of Chandrakanta Meghwal, who was denied ticket from Ramganj Mandi in Kota, protested in Jaipur. Barmer Urban Improvement Trust chairperson and BJP leader Priyanka Chaudhary also resigned from her post.


Cong wins by-poll in Ramgarh, takes tally to 100

February 1, 2019: The Times of India

With its candidate Shafia Zubair’s victory in Ramgarh with a margin of 12,228 votes, Congress on Thursday improved its tally to 100 in the Rajasthan assembly, though it still remains one short of full majority.

“People have made up their mind against the BJP government and even if the NDA promises to lay roads in gold in the Budget on Friday, it will have no impact. The bypolls generally reflect the mood of the people and the win shows their faith in the Congress party ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls,” said chief minister Ashok Gehlot. Zubair secured 83,311 votes

(44.8%), while her nearest BJP rival Sukhwant Singh got 71,083 votes (38.20%).

Former Union minister Natwar Singh’s son Jagat Singh of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) finished third with 24,856 votes (13.4%). Nota polled 241 votes in Ramgarh, including one from a postal ballot. The result can also be seen as a strong message to the BJP in Ramgarh following the alleged lynching of Rakbar Khan by cow vigilantes. BJP candidates could not open their account in four polling booths in Ramgarh.

“It was the first election after the government’s formation and the result is an indication that BJP has lost the support they had,” said deputy CM Sachin Pilot.


BJP clout grows in rural areas

December 15, 2020: The Times of India

The results of the recent panchayat samiti and local bodies’ elections have shown the growing clout of the BJP in rural areas and that the Congress’ strongholds in these areas may be slipping away.

The BJP emerged as the largest party in panchayat samitis and zila parishads polls, but in the urban local bodies, tables turned with the Congress winning 619 wards out of 1,775 in the 50 municipalities. The BJP was relegated to the third position below independents with 549 wards.

The BJP had always maintained an edge in the local bodies’ elections. Results of the last five elections since 1995 show that the saffron party enjoyed a lead in four elections except in 2000. In the 2000 election, the Congress was in power and Ashok Gehlot at the helm of affairs as it managed to outwit the BJP by winning 65 local bodies while BJP was relegated to the second position with 52. In the other four elections, the BJP maintained supremacy.

BJP president Satish Poonia accepted that the local bodies’ election results were a setback to the party.

The Congress garnered 40.87% votes while the BJP got 40.58% votes in the elections held to 222 panchayat samitis in 21 zila parishads. Congress, despite being in power, got 0.29% more votes than BJP.

The Gujjar agitation

As in Oct- Nov

November 2, 2020: The Times of India

Explained: All you want to know about Gujjar agitation in Rajasthan

NEW DELHI/JAIPUR: Normal life in Rajasthan has been hit as the Gujjars are staging protests over various demands. We will explain what this protest is all about and who the key players leading the agitation are.

Why are Gujjars protesting?

On October 18, Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla had given an ultimatum to the Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan to accept their demands, including reservation in jobs and education as a 'most backward class' (MBC), or face large-scale agitation beginning November 1.

Bainsla had made this announcement at a Gujjar Mahapanchayat in Bharatpur which was called to decide the future course of action if their demands are not met.

According to the Rajasthan high court's directives issued in 2007, the Mahapanchayat can only be held after an undertaking has been submitted to the district collector.

Also, as per the National Disaster Management Act and Rajasthan Epidemic Ordinance, 2020, during the Covid-19 crisis a congregation of more than 100 people could not be held in the state.

Who are the key leaders?

The Gujjars are divided into two groups, with one led by Gujjar leader Himmat Singh having held discussions with the state government on Saturday night, resulting in both sides signing a 14-point charter.

However, the other group, led by Bainsla, rejected this agreement and called on community members to start the agitation on Sunday.

Who is Kirori Singh Bainsla?

Kirori Singh Bainsla, who leads the Gurjar Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti, is a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the Indian Army. He has led many protests for the community earlier. He is also the brain behind DevNarayan Yojana - a government programme for the uplift of many communities.

Who is Himmat Singh?

Born on July 17, 1972, as per his Twitter profile, Himmat Singh (@himmatsinghgur1) claims to be "fighting for rights of farmers & (is a) social activist". Himmat Singh, who hails from Dausa, has 19.4K followers on the micro-blogging site.

‘No other term and condition is acceptable’

Bainsla invited state minister Ashok Chandna, who represents the Gujjar community, to the protest site to hold discussions.

However, soon after Chandna reached the protest venue, Bainsla's son Vijay Bainsla asked him to meet the leaders on Monday at 11 am.

"Till then, we are sitting on tracks. We had our dinner here. My father, being 85, has been sent to take rest, however, we are protesting here," Vijay Bainsla said, adding that they would ask Chandna to issue appointment letters to community members under MBC quota and to clear the backlog of recruitments too.

"No other term and condition is acceptable to us as we have had discussions many times earlier," he added.

What are the key demands?

The organisation is demanding that the Rajasthan government should get the Gujjars included in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution, fill the backlog of vacancies and give the benefit of five per cent reservation to the Most Backward Classes (MBCs) in the pending recruitment process.

The 14 points on which a consensus emerged during the talks on Saturday include providing regular pay scale to 1,252 MBC employees who have completed their probation period.

As per agency reports, the state government will once again write to the Centre to include the provision related to reservation for the MBCs in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution.

Gujjar body-Rajasthan cabinet sub-panel agreement

The Gurjar Reservation Committee and the Rajasthan government's cabinet sub-committee had agreed on 14 points following talks on Saturday.

"We had a very positive discussion and we are satisfied with the 14 points that we have agreed on. There is no need for agitation and we hope the government will meet its promises," Himmat Singh Gurjar, leader of Gurjar faction, whose delegation met Rajasthan Minister Raghu Sharma on Saturday, had said.

Rs 5 lakh assistance

One of the important agreements is that Rs 5 lakh assistance will be given to the families of three deceased during Gurjar agitation, Kailash Gurjar, Man Singh Gurjar and Badri Gurjar and municipal jobs to one member each of their families.

What were the 2018 & 2019 bills?

Following numerous protests earlier, the Rajasthan government on October 26, 2018, passed a bill which increased the Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota from 21 per cent to 26 per cent. In December 2018, the Rajasthan government also approved one per cent reservation for Gujjars and four other backward castes (OBCs).

These communities are getting one per cent separate reservation under the legal limit of 50 per cent reservation meant for the most-backward category (MBC) in addition to OBC reservation.

In February 2019, the Rajasthan Assembly passed a bill giving a five per cent quota in government jobs and educational institutes to the Gujjars and four other communities agitating for it.

Rail, bus & Internet services hit

The Delhi-Mumbai rail connectivity was affected as the Gujjars on Sunday started their agitation in Rajasthan's Bharatpur district.

As per ANI, the Railways cancelled three trains and diverted 29 trains. According to ministry officials, Kota-Hazrat Nizamuddin, Dehradun-Kota and Hazrat Nizamuddin-Kota trains have been cancelled. Trains on the Delhi-Mumbai route have been stopped, the agency added.

"The agitation will affect traffic on the Delhi-Mumbai rail route. The movement of traffic was disrupted on the Bayana-Hindaun road," police said.

Some youths also damaged the fishplates, affecting the smooth railway traffic on the route.

The state has temporarily discontinued its bus service on the Agra-Jaipur route as a precaution. There were reports of Gujjars blocking the Bayana Hindon road route too. Meanwhile, the plying of buses was suspended in Karauli district and a huge police force was deployed in Bayana.

Internet services have been suspended in many parts of the state to ensure law and order is maintained.

How many districts in Rajasthan have been placed under NSA?

On Saturday, the state home department issued orders to district collectors of eight districts to invoke powers under the stringent National Security Act and this will be valid for three months.

As per an order issued by administrative secretary NL Meena, the districts of Bharatpur, Dholpur, Sawai Madhopur, Dausa, Tonk, Bundi and Jhalawar districts have been placed under the NSA.

'Govt open to negotiations'

Meanwhile, the government on Monday said it was open to further negotiations with Gujjars even as the protest called by the Gurjar Aarakshan Sangarsh Samiti entered its second day.

Movement of roadways buses was stopped on Dausa, Bharatpur, Karauli, Dholpur and Hindaun routes, and road traffic movement entering from Uttar Pradesh was also affected due to the agitation.

A North-Western Railways spokesman said routes of several passenger trains were changed in the wake of the Gujjar agitation.

According to police, youths in large numbers blocked a rail track in Bayana and also damaged tracks.

The issue was also raised in the Rajasthan assembly session.

What minister Chandna, agitators and Bharatpur collector say

“I told them when all their 14 demands have been accepted and papers signed by the members of the ministerial sub-committee, there was no scope left for an agitation. When we invited them to Jaipur, they didn’t come. When they called us, we went to Hindaun, but they refused to meet us,” Chandna told TOI.

Meanwhile, Vijay Bainsla told reporters, “These papers (14-point demands) are of no significance. They are still saying that they will implement them. They have wasted our time and misguided the community. They should act now. I would also invite Gujjar MLAs to come and sit on the track. They should support the community.”

Bharatpur collector Nathmal Didel said, “Col Bainsla held a meeting around 3pm here (Pilupura). Around 400 people gathered for the meeting. Later, about 100-150 protesters sat on the Delhi-Mumbai railway line. Some are still there on the track. The government is still in talks with the Gujjars, urging them to call off the agitation. Eight companies of police have been deployed. Section 144 has been enforced and the internet will remain suspended for now.” Jaipur divisional commissioner Somanth Mishra has extended the order to suspend internet services in Jaipur district’s Kotputli, Paota, Shahpura, Viratnagar and Jamwa Ramgarh areas till November 2.

With agency inputs

BTP exits govt as Congmen back BJP

December 11,2020: The Times of India

BTP exits govt as Raj Congmen back BJP in poll


Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) put the Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan in a spot by severing ties with Congress after an independent for the Dungarpur zila pramukh seat backed by BTP failed to get elected with the support of its ally. Instead, the Congress councillors voted for BJP, whose nominee emerged victorious in the 27-member parishad despite winning just eight seats. BTP’s two MLAs in the 200-member Rajasthan assembly have been backing the Gehlot government and had even voted for Congress in the Rajya Sabha elections. Infuriated by Congress members ditching BTP in the zila pramukh polls, the party’s Rajasthan unit chief Vela Ram Ghogra said: “This move puts an end to the relationship between BTP and Congress. This betrayal of trust has proved that Congress can never be trusted. Now, it is clear to us that BTP will contest all polls independently.”

State BJP chief Satish Poonia said this was not an “unusual” development. “In panchayat or zila parishad, a party gives freedom to the local netas to take a call in such situations.” TNN


Bhajan Lal appointed CM

Shoeb Khan & Akhilesh Singh, Dec 13, 2023: The Times of India

JAIPUR/NEW DELHI: BJP, which has surprised with its choices for CMs of Chhattisgarh and MP, came out with another stunner on Tuesday when it chose first-term MLA Bhajan Lal Sharma to head its government in Jaipur, slamming the door on the ambitions of ex-CM Vasundhara Raje and other contenders.

The party nominated Diya Kumari (Rajput) and Prem Chand Bairwa (Dalit) for posts of deputy CMs, while selecting Vasudev Devnani, a Sindhi, to be the new speaker.

Sharma, who will be the first Brahmin CM of Rajasthan since Hari Dev Joshi quit the post in 1990, later called on governor Kalraj Mishra to stake claim to form the government.In terms of unexpectedness, if Vishnu Deo Sai and Mohan Yadav, the party's CM picks for Chhattisgarh and MP, were called dark horses, Sharma qualifies to be a dark stallion. The 56-year-old former ABVP functionary, who was seated in the fourth row at the meeting of the MLAs, started off as a member of panchayat samiti, the lowest tier of electoral politics, before getting elected as sarpanch (village head).

A big factor behind the choice of Bhajan Lal Sharma as the CM in Rajasthan was the leadership's desire to "phase down" the old guard and "phase in" a new crop, sources said. In political circles, the banter was that this marks the completion of the leadership's 'VRS Plan' for Vasundhara Raje, former Chhattisgarh boss Raman Singh and outgoing MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, only that there was nothing 'voluntary' about it.

Caste dynamics of Rajasthan, especially the zero-sum equations of dominant castes like Jats, Rajputs and Meenas, was another variable in the power mix. It has traditionally opened the doors for non-dominating castes like Brahmins: something that helps explain the eclectic cast of former Rajasthan CMs: Mohan Lal Sukhadia (Vaishya), Shiv Charan Mathur (Kayasth), Jagannath Pahadia (SC), Barkatullah Khan (Muslim) and Ashok Gehlot (Mali). Veterans like Haridev Joshi (Brahmin), Bhairon Singh Shekhawat (Rajput) and Vasundhara Raje (Scindia married to Jat) did not fit the mould, but the first two were known for their consensual style.

The nod for Sharma can help the party dodge the competing claims of communities known for their "take no prisoners" outlook. Sharma started off as a member of panchayat samiti, the lowest tier of electoral politics, before getting elected as sarpanch (village head). He won a second term, but it was not until November 2023 that he got the party ticket to contest his an election to the state assembly from Jaipur's Sanganer constituency.

What also worked for the lucky Sanganer MLA is his long stints in ABVP, affiliation with R S S and, above all, a proven track record as a solid organisation man who served four terms as state BJP general secretary and was currently looking after the headquarters, a crucial responsibility in BJP's scheme of things.

More crucially, he was part of the contingent of "shock troopers" raised by Union home minister Amit Shah when he was the party chief, who are deployed for critical electoral missions - a role, sources said, Sharma performed diligently and with an impressive strike rate.

Vasundhara Raje ought to feel miserable over the turn of events. She never gave up hope of a third term despite growing indications of the leadership's indifference and its 'by-now-established' track record of refusal to be a serf of statures. The antics of her supporters, who allegedly tried to corral the MLAs, may have only further annoyed the leadership.

Sources said while Raje, after it took some persuasion on part of defence minister Rajnath Singh who led the team of observers, agreed to do the awkward job of proposing Sharma's name, a few of her supporters among MLAs had continued to press her claim before the central observers until the last moment.

Selection of all three chief ministers, according to party sources, is a signal to party cadre that commitment to the organisation and hard work are to be rewarded and there was no space for a "cult" or satrap.’

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