Raje Revolt Relief for Congress
The outburst by the former chief minister and infighting within BJP may dent its prospects in the next elections
The outburst by the former chief minister and infighting within BJP may dent its prospects in the next elections.
he BJP in Rajasthan has shown the state Congress that it is no slouch when it comes to infighting among its leaders. On May 5, Vasundhara Raje, Leader of Opposition in Rajasthan, threatened to resign from the primary membership of BJP after President Nitin Gadkari warned her of “dire consequences” if she didn’t help in making rival Gulab Chand Kataria’a rally a rousing success. The former state home minister has the backing of RSS. In one fell swoop, Gadkari managed to revive the morale of the scandaltainted Congress as it prepares for Assembly elections in 2013.
Raje sees herself as a natural choice for chief minister, should the BJP return to power. Kataria, who is backed by the RSS which dislikes Raje, would like her potential job. The party high command is in two minds— as it showed in this crisis as well. Though the high command, including spokesman Prakash Javadekar, was forced to publicly endorse her leadership, state president Arun Chaturvedi launched disciplinary action against 56 of the 78 BJP MLAS and numerous workers who quit in her favour.
Ironically, the same day, on May 5, Congress witnessed one of its worst inner party fights. Congress workers clashed at a workshop of district office- bearers being conducted in Bharatpur by Congress’s state President Chandra Bhan, who is close to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. Chandra Bhan blamed Vishvendra Singh, erstwhile Jat Maharaja of Bharatpur, who was sharing the dais with him at the workshop venue, calling him a “coward” and accusing him of sponsoring the attack. A
Tfurious Singh, who had welcomed him a few minutes ago, has since demanded Chandra Bhan’s removal, reminding the high command of his conviction and four years in jail for murdering a Brahmin youngster of Singh’s village in 1974.
Raje was upset that she was first kept out of the planning for Kataria’s yatra and then asked to campaign for him. Kataria in turn accused her of sabotaging his yatra through her supporters. When RSS representative Kaptan Singh Solanki, a known Raje baiter, spoke to Gadkari conveying
her “resistance” to the yatra, an angry Gadkari ticked her off. She would be held responsible for any failure of the yatra, he told her.
The former chief minister’s threat to resign has damaged her credibility as there will always be a question mark on her loyalty to the party. But Raje’s aides say that she was pushed to the wall. She told her loyalists: “Usually parties build chief ministers but here they have been demolishing them. They did it to Madan Lal Khurana in Delhi, B. C. Khanduri in Uttarakhand and Kalyan Singh in Uttar Pradesh. The BJP has lost in all three states.”
Raje is the undisputed leader of a majority of party workers and MLAS but her rivals insist that she can’t win elections alone after BJP lost the last two elections to the Assembly in 2008 and Parliament in 2009 under her. Rivals ensured her removal as Leader of Opposition in 2010 but the party brought her back in 2011 realising that only she had the charisma to draw crowds.
Claimants for her job have always been in plenty since she was asked to lead the party in 2002. This anti- Raje faction wanted a chief ministerial candidate from among them. Raje, after becoming chief minister, let them have best ministerial berths, tolerated their boycott of Cabinet meetings and their public opposition to her decisions as well as the high command’s failure to act against their indiscipline, which included accusing her of massive corruption. Gehlot made their statements election issues and highlights them even now, knowing that only Raje can lead the BJP to victory. The RSS’S dislike for her and her own impetuousness has given Gehlot yet another stick to beat her with.
RAJE WAS UPSET THAT SHE WAS FIRST KEPT OUT OFTHE PLANNING FOR KATARIA’S YATRA AND THEN ASKED TO CAMPAIGN FOR HIM.
VASUNDHARARAJE ADDRESSES THE MEDIA AFTER ACORE COMMITTEE MEETING IN JAIPUR ON MAY5; GULAB CHAND KATARIA