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Modi win spurs Raje

Jaipur, Dec. 24: Narendra Modi’s steamrollering of Gujarat BJP rebels today emboldened the Rajasthan chief minister to sound a warning to dissidents in her own state.

Vasundhara Raje carried out a long-awaited ministry shuffle whose message, at least partly, was that she held the reins in the party and her critics should do well to fall in line behind the state’s only charismatic leader.

The BJP central leadership gave her a hearty vote of confidence, saying Raje would be leading the party in the Assembly polls slated late next year.

“Let there be no doubt about this. The BJP will fight the next elections under the leadership of Vasundhara Raje,” party vice-president Gopinath Munde, the BJP’s Rajasthan minder, told reporters after the cabinet shuffle.

Raje today accepted the dramatic resignation of senior cabinet minister Kirori Lal Meena, who had been threatening to quit if the government wrote to Delhi recommending Scheduled Tribe status for Gujjars. The government has decided it will not, but Raje made up her mind to sacrifice Kirori Lal who has been running a hawkish anti-Gujjar campaign.

She also dropped junior minister Veerendra Meena, who has been attending Kirori Lal’s “Meena panchayats”, underlining the message that ministers must not play strident caste politics.

Raje, however, kept the caste equations in mind as she inducted four cabinet ministers and a minister of state.

She balanced the two Meena exits by including former ministers Ram Kishore Meena and Nand Lal Meena.

The inclusion of Nathu Singh Gujjar is an attempt to placate the Gujjars, now planning an agitation.

Former minister Kali Charan Saraf and ex-deputy chief whip Surendra Goel were the others entering the ministry. Raje did not sack any of the dissident ministers.

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