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The Rani Of Dholpur Palace Returns To Become The Maharani Of Rajasthan

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The princely states passed, but not the prince and princess. They still see themselves as the heirs of the throne. But there is a difference that the monarchy has been given the status of democracy. The second difference is that now it is necessary to be dynamic in order to occupy power. Political strength, along with mobility, determines the path leading to power.

vasundhara raje
Vasundhara Raje.

It can be understood by the scenario of 2012 when Rajasthan BJP leaders Gulabchand Kataria and Ghanshyam Tiwari made a political game against Vasundhara Raje, but Vasundhara turned the time in her favour and the resignation of 60 out of 78 MLAs brought the then Rajasthan BJP President Arun Chaturvedi on his knees.

The state leadership immediately bowed down to Raje, stopping Katariya’s Lok Jagaran Yatra. Vasundhara Raje understands that mobility works only when the strength is in the grasp.

Born in the Royal family, Vasundhara has proved to be the most adept player in politics among Vijaya Raje Scindia’s children. When Vasundhara lost the election from Bhind seat of Madhya Pradesh in 1984, no one would have imagined that the princess of the princely State of Gwalior would emerge as the queen of Rajasthan.

Vasundhara’s relations with the Dholpur royal family (Vasundhara Raje’s in-law) may have broken, but the people of Dholpur never left Vasundhara. In the 1985 assembly elections, Dholpur not only supported their “Bahurani” but established her political base in Rajasthan.

Vasundhara won consecutive Lok Sabha elections from Jhalawar in 1989, 1991, 1996, 1998 and 1994, but by then, she was known only as Vijaya Raje Scindia’s daughter.

Under the right circumstances, soft wax can transform into hard stones, whether you refer to Vasundhara Raje or Ashok Gehlot. The big similarity between Vasundhara and Gehlot is that both are known for crushing their opponents. They not only can deal with but also shore them up.

While on the one hand, Gehlot muckered Haridev Josh, Natwar Singh, Maderna, CP Joshi and Sachin Pilot. On the other hand, Vasundhara has not only muckered the leaders of the State but also the leaders of the Center.

vasundhara raje and amit shah
Vasundhara Raje and Amit Shah aren’t the best of friends.

The BJP got 78 out of 200 seats in the 2008 assembly elections when the then National President of the BJP, Rajnath Singh, ordered Vasundhara Raje to resign. Vasundhara said that the party Sangathan was responsible for the defeat. The party lost 28 of the 30 seats given by the Sangathan.

Rajnath remained adamant, and on 15 August 2009, Vasundhara travelled to the BJPs national office with 57 other MLAs. Rajnath is an old player and understood the game. There was no other option but to step back. This incident gave Vasundhara a real identity as a politician.

But given the present circumstances, the so-called political pundits are saying that the Vasundhara era is over. Politics is also called the field of possibilities, which can be born anytime, but the matter behind the curtain is that those possibilities also have to be born from someone’s womb.

8 December, 2003, may be seen as a possibility by the people, but giving rise to that possibility was former Chief Minister of Rajasthan and the then Vice President, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who had made Vasundhara the Chief Minister, who was not politically active in state politics.

Vasundhara slowly strengthened her group, but if we look at the present situation, Vasundhara is looking very passive. BJP State president Satish Poonia and Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat are openly engaged in the exercise to end Vasundhara’s era.

The high command also does not seem to be able to carry Vasundhara’s burden and Amit Shah will want to take old revenge from Vasundhara, so she will have to undergo a new litmus test.

While Vasundhara’s supporters are demanding that she be declared the face of the Chief Ministerial position, Satish Poonia is trying to uproot Vasundhara and establish himself in state politics.

Apart from this, there is a player who is watching the game from a distance, who feels that the Chief Minister’s ticket is not in the State but in the hands of the Center. There is no doubt that Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has always been Amit Shah’s first choice.

In 2018, when Ashok Parnami’s tenure as the state president was over, Amit Shah wanted to give Gajendra Singh Shekhawat the leadership of the State BJP, but Vasundhara repeated the 2008 incident, 113 out of 163 MLAs stood in front of 11 Ashoka Road BJP office in New Delhi.

The incident was similar to 2008, but this time the victim of the incident had changed; the victim was Amit Shah. Amit Shah withdrew and the Sangh handed over the State’s command to Sikar’s low profile leader Madanlal Saini. Saini died in June 2019, after which Satish Pooni was made the party’s State president with the Sangh and Shah’s role, but this time Vasundhara remained silent because she knew she was facing Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.

Vasundhara Raje and Ashok Gehlot
Gehlot and Raje’s friendship is well known.

There is no doubt that when the Gehlot government was on the verge of falling in Rajasthan last year, Raje saved Gehlot’s government with her internal support. Gehlot and Raje’s friendship is well known, politically they are against each other, but they do not allow a third to enter their competition. Both agree on the idea of Paanch saal Maharani aur Paanch saal Jadugar.

But presently, Vasundhara has to fight the party’s inner State, for which she also stole Sachin Pilot’s political future. Since 2018, the party is trying to end the phase of Raje. Gulabchand Kataria was made the Leader of the Opposition against Vasundhara’s will. Ghanshyam Tiwari returned to the party. Vasundhara’s competition, Diya Kumari, is included in the State executive.

Madan Dilawar was made the General Secretary of the BJP and Hanuman Beniwal was allowed to speak openly against Vasundhara. Every event has been woven to end Vasundhara’s era.

Opposing the farm laws, Hanuman Beniwal broke the alliance with the BJP, so a thorn in front of Vasundhara has automatically been removed. Vasundhara has a speciality; she activates herself a year and a half before the election and spends the rest of the years in the Dholpur Palace. But this time, Vasundhara’s supporters came out of the cave ahead of time, which can lead to speculation that this time the challenge before Raje is big and complex.

Vasundhara Raje knows that Poonia and Shekhawat are not the leaders of the mass base, but the Center’s support may help Shekhawat. Vasundhara has been living a dormant political life inside the Dholpur Palace for more than 2 years, away from the core committee meetings of the state BJP.

Vasundhara’s supporters did not get a special place in the expansion of the state executive. Satish Poonia’s cell is dealing with Vasundhara on its own and is trying to dismiss her in state politics. The national leadership is also not ready to take a special interest. In such a situation, it can be said that the BJP will have to face a big loss by ignoring Vasundhara because there is no other leader in the State BJP besides her who can be used as an alternative.

Vasundhara Raje in Jaipur
Vasundhara Raje attended a key BJP meet in Jaipur.

On 23 February, the presence of Vasundhara was discussed in the meeting of the core committee of Rajasthan BJP. When she entered the border of Jaipur, her workers gathered and welcomed her from place to place and after the long gap. She also attacked her opponents, breaking the silence.

She appeared in her old style, which was a clear indication that she had not arrived for retirement. Soon there will be assembly by-elections in Rajasthan, in which her presence or absence will clear all the dust from the glass. If her absence is found and the BJP loses the election, it will prove beneficial for her and Satish Poonia’s leadership will be questioned.

But before this, Vasundhara has to convey the message of her strength to the high command. She will organise a proposed power demonstration and religious visit in Bharatpur on the occasion of her birthday on 8 March.

The courage to stand against Amit Shah and Modi in the BJP is seen in none other than Vasundhara. She does not follow a high command but believes in her dynamism and strength. She has a different way of dealing with her opponents; she believes in an open political fight.

This power demonstration will determine her future in politics. She is ready to give the message that the queen of Dholpur Palace has returned after her political exile. The strategy has been made within the boundary wall of the Dholpur Palace, the laying of the political board is yet to be done.

Gehlot and Raje’s silence in Rajasthan is seen as the beginning of a new political chapter. After two-and-a-half years of silence, the Maharani of Rajasthan and Madam has entered State politics again.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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