Raje Re­volt Re­lief for Congress

The out­burst by the for­mer chief min­is­ter and in­fight­ing within BJP may dent its prospects in the next elec­tions

India Today - - INSIDE - By Ro­hit Par­i­har

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

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