Vasundhara Raje Scindia, commonly known as Vasundhara Raje, is the current Chief Minister of Rajasthan. A member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Raje has held this post from 2003-08. She is the first female Chief Minister of Rajasthan and belongs to the prominent Scindia royal Maratha family. For her efforts in assisting women in self empowerment, she was awarded the 'Women Together Award' by the UNO.
Born on 8th March 1953 in Mumbai, Vasundhara Raje was born to Jivaji Rao Scindia and Vijayaraje Scindia. Her father was the last reigning Maharaja of Gwalior, a princely state before independence situated at the heart of India whereas her mother was one of the most prominent politicians in independent India and in her 4 decade political career, she served eight times as the Member of Parliament and represented Guna constituency in the Parliament. Vasundhara Raje was the third out of the four children born to Jivaji Rao Scindia and Vijayaraje Scindia. She has a elder sister Usha Raje, an elder brother late Shri Maadhavrao Scindia was a politician and he died in 2001. She also has a younger sister Smt Yashodhara Raje who serves as the Member of Parliament from Gwalior representing BJP. Born in such a family, Raje completed her schooling from Presentation Convent from Lodaikanal in Tamil Nadu and later graduated from Sophia College in Mumbai with the degree in Economics and Political Science. Since she hailed from a politically active family, Raje had interest in politics from the very beginning. She began her political career in 1984 as a member of the National Executive of BJP. BJP was formed in 1980 and Raje joined BJP in 1984. Later in 1985, she was appointed as the Vice President of the Yuva Morcha of Rajasthan the youth wing of BJP. She contested her first elections in the 1985 assembly elections representing the Dholpur Assembly. She won the election and became the Member of the Legislative Assembly. In the 1989 general elections, she contested the elections from Jhalawar constituency in Rajasthana and got elected as the Member of Parliament in the 1989 elections.
From 1989 onwards, she won four successive Lok Sabha elections representing Jhalawar. During the 12th Lok Sabha of 1998, when BJP won 182 seats and later formed a coalition government, Raje was sworn in as the Minister of state of External Affairs. She also played an important role during India's testing of nuclear capabilities and after the international community imposed sanctions on India, she represented India in foreign policy and engaged with the sections of international community and made them withdrew the sanctions imposed by them. However, the Vajpayee Government couldn't survive for a long time and the ministry resigned 13 months after its formation. However, in th next election, the Vajpayee government was formed again and Vasundhara Raje became the MP for the 5th time and this time she took the oath as a Minister of State with independent charge and handled portfolios like Small Scale Industries and Agro & Rural industries and assisted the Prime Minister in Department of Pensions and Pensioners in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Space. As the minister of small scale industries, she initiated the phased removal of the reservation policy providing for reservation of certain items to be manufactured only by small industries to encourage greater competitiveness within the small-scale sector. She was also a part of the drafting of the bill to enhance accountability and transparency which later became the foundation of the Right to Information act. She returned to state politics in 1993 and led the party to win the election. BJP won 120 out of 200 seats in the legislative assembly. She was chosen as the face of the party in the state and was appointed as the Chief Minister of Rajasthan and became the first woman Chief Minister of Rajasthan. Her term in the office is known for focusing on the infrastructure of the state and for the launch of various social initiatives. She was recognized for empowering the women of the state by promoting self-help group and was awarded the Women Together Award from the United Nations in 2007 for her initiatives. However, her term was also marked with the caste violence in the state leading to the Gurjar movement. In the 2008 elections, due to the caste violence, BJP lost its power and Congress formed a coalition government in the state. Vasundhara Raje was then appointed as the leader of opposition in the legislative assembly and looked after the organizational matters of the party. In the 2013 election, BJP got re elected in the state after winning 163 seats and Raje was once again selected as the Chief Minister and she began her second term as Chief Minister.
Vasundhara Raje was married to Hemant Singh, the ex-royal Dholpur family. They have a son Dushyant Singh who was elected to Lok Sabha from Jhalawar. Raje and Hemant Singh separated a year later after their marriage. Vasundhara Raje was in controversies after Lalit Modi revealed that Raje helped Laliit Modi after signing a document supporting his application to the British authorities. Congress accused Raje of corruption and alleged that she had granted favours to Modi in exchange of money.