Vasundhara bows out, but her charisma remains intact (Profile)

December 8th, 2008 - 10:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyJaipur, Dec 8 (IANS) Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s loss in the state assembly elections Monday cannot somehow take away from her charisma and the public rapport she enjoys in several parts of the country’s geographically largest state. While several senior leaders of her Bharatiya Janata Party explained the defeat was because of internal strife in the state unit, Raje was already on her way to tender her resignation.

“We will prove a good opponent to ensure the state’s development continues,” she said.

“The people’s choice is final. They think well before deciding. I respect that,” Raje, who was born to a royal family of Madhya Pradesh, said.

Raje became the first woman Chief Minister of Rajasthan in 2003. “The state loves her. The way she dresses becomes a fashion statement in the state. She has become an icon for Rajasthani women”, Puja, a college going student, said.

Probably her increasing number of detractors and many BJP rebels do not agree.

“We never liked her style of functioning. She still behaves like a Maharani (Queen). She loves sycophancy and has an autocratic style of functioning,” said a party worker on the condition of anonymity.

“We want a leader whom we can be in constant touch with. She in her previous stint as chief minister was not accessible. We hope she improves now,” a BJP worker said.

Born March 8, 1953 in Mumbai, Raje was the fourth child of Rajmata Vijayraje Scindia and Jivaji Rao Scindia of Gwalior. After completing her school education from Presentation Convent, Kodaikanal, she graduated in Economics and Political Science (Hons.) from Sophia College, Mumbai.

Raje’s relationship with the desert state developed after she got married to the erstwhile ruler of Dholpur, Hemant Singh, Nov 17, 1972.

It was Vijaya Raje Scindia, her mother, who brought her into politics in 1984 when she was inducted into the national working Committee of the BJP that year. After that, she was the vice-president of the party’s youth wing in Rajasthan for two years.

She was a legislator from Dholpur in Rajasthan from 1985-1989. Then became the vice-president of her party’s state unit and later won parliamentary elections from Jhalawar in Rajasthan for the first time in 1989. Her winning spree in the Lok Sabha continued till the 1999 elections.

After her stint in the central government as a minister of state for various portfolios, Raje was made the president of the party’s Rajasthan unit. She became popular in the country’s largest state after her ‘Parivartan Yatra (tour for change)’, under which she undertook an extensive tour of the region.

She stewarded the BJP to power in 2003, bagging as many as 120 of the 200 seats in the state. With her pragmatic policies she pulled the state from a financial mess to present a Rs.1.80-billion surplus budget.

Raje also handled the finance portfolio.

“She has proven her financial and economic astuteness. In her budget for fiscal 2008-09, she has shown a surplus of Rs.1.8 billion. It is an achievement,” said R K Gaur, an economic professor in a local private college.

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