Gearing up for assembly elections in Rajasthan slated for later this year, Bharatiya Janata Party has brought back former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje to head the party in the state.
Announcing Raje's appointment in the presence of senior party leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, BJP President Rajnath Singh said party leader Gulab Chand Kataria will be the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly. He will take over from Raje who quit the post.
Singh earlier held a meeting with party leaders from the state in a bid to put up a united face of the faction-ridden party in Rajasthan ahead of the elections.
Besides the two Leaders of the Opposition in Parliament, others present at the meeting with Rajnath included Raje, Kataria and outgoing party state president Arun Chaturvedi.
"The party will work unitedly under the leadership of Vasundhara Raje," Singh told reporters.
Raje is also expected to be BJP's chief ministerial face, though a final decision in this regard will be taken after the polls.
Soon after assuming her new responsibility, Raje said "BJP is a family. In this, not just us but workers are also there. This is a big family and, as Gulab Chand Kataria said, we will take it forward with everybody. I want assure everybody that in this big family everybody has a place and for this we all, Gulabji will make the Rajasthan BJP strong and take it ahead. There are no two views on that."
The announcement comes as part of the party's efforts to end dissidence in its state unit. The tenure of the 200-member current assembly in Rajasthan ends on December 31, 2013.
Welcoming the decision, Kataria also announced full support to Raje and said all will work to strengthen the party in the state and give a new direction to it.
Raje said she, along with Kataria and party workers, will unitedly fight and help bring the party back to power in the state.
Raje, who turns 60 next month, was the chief minister of Rajasthan from 2003 to 2008 She had been a five-term Lok Sabha member and a three-time MLA, being elected for the first time in 1985 at the age of 32.
She is the daughter of senior BJP leader Vijaya Raje Scindia and got her education from famous SophiaCollege in Bombay.
She was unceremoniously removed from the post of Leader of Opposition in the state assembly in February 2010 but was back in the post in March 2011. She had been unhappy with the party's central leadership for sometime after being "sidelined" in the state.
Her appointment came after hectic consultations in BJP's Core Group meeting yesterday and with RSS leadership, where an assessment emerged that she was the only one who could lead the party back to power in Rajasthan.