Narpat Singh Rajvi, the son-in-law of the former Vice-President of India and the current BJP MLA, expressed his astonishment and disbelief at being left out of the party’s initial list of candidates, which was unveiled on Monday. It’s noteworthy that his name was conspicuously absent from the list, despite having secured victory in the same constituency for three consecutive terms. Vidhyadhar Nagar, the seat in question, was unique among the 41 nominations announced, as it had an incumbent BJP MLA. Surprisingly, he was replaced by Diya Kumari, a sitting Member of Parliament and a member of the Jaipur royal family.
Narpat Singh Rajvi, a five-time MLA with strong connections to Vasundhara Raje and the legacy of Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, one of the founders of the BJP and a three-time Chief Minister of Rajasthan, was surprisingly overlooked. Another BJP leader who was omitted from the party’s initial candidate list for his traditional seat is Rajpal Singh Shekhawat, a former loyalist of Bhairon Singh who now enjoys the trust of Vasundhara Raje. Despite losing in the 2018 elections, Rajpal is a multiple-term legislator and a former minister. His replacement is Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, a Member of Parliament whose constituency, Jaipur Rural, covers the Jhotwara Assembly segment.
Both Rajvi and Rajpal Singh are well-known Rajput figures within the BJP, particularly in Jaipur’s political circles. Their exclusion is viewed as a symbol of the changing of the guard within the Rajasthan BJP, moving out from under the shadows of Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Vasundhara Raje, marking a generational shift. This development also constitutes another setback for Raje, who, in the view of her supporters, still does not hold the prominent position they believe she deserves as the most popular leader in Rajasthan and former Chief Minister.
The BJP’s recent actions bear similarities to its moves in the Karnataka Assembly elections earlier this year when long-standing leaders like B.S. Yediyurappa, whose influence predates the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah era within the party, found themselves marginalized.
In the case of Rajasthan, Raje herself owes a significant part of her political career to Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who introduced her to the rough and challenging world of state politics in Rajasthan. Rajvi, his son-in-law, has consistently won Vidhyadhar Nagar since 2008, largely attributed to the strong bond voters have with Bhairon Singh, whose memorial is a prominent structure in the constituency. Denying Rajvi the ticket not only conveys a message to the supporters of Bhairon Singh and Raje but also underscores the significance of selecting Diya Kumari as his replacement. As a prominent female figure from a royal family, she is considered by many as a counterbalance to Raje.
Rajvi, at the age of 72, expressed his shock at being denied the ticket, despite securing substantial victories in Vidhyadhar Nagar in the 2008, 2013, and 2018 elections. He emphasized the pivotal role of Bhairon Singh, one of the BJP’s founding members, and emphasized that any attempt to tarnish his legacy would ultimately fail, as Bhairon Singh’s name is deeply etched in the hearts of the people.
Regarding his future steps, Rajvi mentioned that he would decide on his course of action after consulting with his family and party members. While some BJP sources suggest that Rajvi or another family member might be accommodated in subsequent candidate lists, potentially for regions like Chittorgarh and Bikaner, Rajvi himself declared that he would only contest from Vidhyadhar Nagar.
Having been first elected to the state Assembly in 1993 from Chittorgarh, during Bhairon Singh’s tenure as Chief Minister, Rajvi has served as a minister over multiple terms, overseeing portfolios such as Industries and Health. In 1990, Rajvi played a crucial role in engineering a split in the Janata Dal, which was crucial in saving the BJP government led by Bhairon Singh, as relations soured between the two parties during L.K. Advani’s Rath Yatra.
Rajvi views this period as an example of his longstanding contributions to the party. The split resulted in the formation of a splinter group, Janata Dal (Digvijay), which played a pivotal role in preserving the BJP government. Rajendra Rathore, the current Leader of the Opposition, was among the MLAs who defected and subsequently built his political career in the BJP.
Interestingly, during the first two decades of the 2000s, Rajvi and other senior BJP leaders from the Shekhawat era, like Jaswant Singh, were seen as sidelined during Raje’s tenure as Chief Minister. However, over the past five years, Rajvi has shared the stage with Raje, indicating an improvement in their relationship.
Rajpal Singh, the other BJP leader whose name was omitted for his traditional Jhotwara seat, has previously held important portfolios like Urban Development and Housing in Raje’s past governments. In the 2018 elections, Rajpal Singh lost to the Congress’s Lal Chand Katariya.