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Vasundhara Raje

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Having been in politics for 30 years, Vasundhara Raje is one of India’s leading woman politicians. Between 2003 and 2008, she was chief minister of the BJP government in Rajasthan. Having narrowly lost the election in 2008, many political observers are predicting a second term for her after the next Rajasthan election in 2013. A member of a prominent political family – her brother, sister and nephew have all been ministers, her son is an MP and her late mother was one of the founders of the BJP – Vasundhara Raje has taken a harder route to political success than many other members of political dynasties. She moved out of her native Madhya Pradesh to build her career in Rajasthan, being elected to five successive terms in the Lok Sabha. Then, in 2003, she led the BJP to its biggest victory in the state. Prior to that, she had served in the government of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi. There she had held key portfolios such as that of minister of state for external affairs.

Vasundhara is one of the most forceful, charismatic and modernist minds in the Indian political right. Her administrative acumen was in evidence during her chief ministry of Rajasthan, a period in which she focused on gender equity and the social sector, and on infrastructure development, industrialisation and economic growth. She was also praised for her deft and dexterous handling of a caste protest, triggered by members of the Gujjar community seeking job and educational reservations.

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