The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Raje takes over BJP unit

New Delhi, Sept. 12: Vasundhara Raje finally took over as the Rajasthan BJP chief after weeks of speculation, with party president M. Venkaiah Naidu today announcing her appointment in Jaipur, at the end of a two-day zonal party conference.

Vasundhara’s appointment was part of a series of changes effected to tone up the party organisation before the next round of Assembly elections. The BJP wants a “generational” change to facilitate younger persons to take over as state unit presidents so that they might also be projected as chief-ministerial aspirants.

Rajasthan goes to polls in 2003 and it is almost certain that the new state chief would be projected as the BJP’s choice for chief minister. Vasundhara has been representing the Jalawar parliamentary constituency on the Rajasthan-Madhya Pradesh border for the past several elections.

The appointment is seen as a “bold experiment” because it is not yet clear whether the state’s feudal structure would accept Vasundhara, the minister of state for small industries with independent charge, as a prospective chief minister. The BJP hopes to encash on her royal connections and the fact that she is not aligned to any faction.

Her appointment was facilitated by the resignation of Bhanwar Lal Sharma and former chief minister Bhairon Singh Shekhawat’s move to New Delhi.

Vasundhara is the second central minister to be appointed state unit chief by Naidu, who took over as the BJP president from K. Jana Krishnamurthi on July 1. She, like Singh, is not yet expected to quit the council of ministers and may do so closer to the elections.

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