After several months of silence, former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s sudden emergence from her palace in Dholpur has caused ripples in political circles. Raje, who had tested positive in the initial stages of the pandemic, confined herself to her Delhi and Dholpur home.
But amid the rising political crisis within Congress and Ashok Gehlot’s accusation that BJP was trying to topple the government, Vasundhara Raje has surfaced from her hibernation. Raje drove from Dholpur to Delhi and had a two-hour-long meeting with BJP president JP Nadda.
Who tried to topple Gehlot govt?
During the internal crisis in the Congress, Gehlot blamed Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat for trying to topple the government. But it was the BJP president Satish Punia and former minister Rajendra Singh Rathor, who went on fuelling the issue.
Interestingly when the crisis was at its peak, the BJP veteran and former Speaker Kailash Meghwal opposed the plan to topple a democratically elected government. Meghwal had warned that any attempt to topple the government would send a wrong message to the masses and electorate.
After this Raje also issued a similar statement. But, the BJP leadership particularly President Satish Punia did not call a meeting of the party leaders. Vasundhara Raje and the leader of the Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria were marginalized by the party’s organization and the BJP campaign against the Congress was confined to Punia and Rathor.
Both Punia and Rathor come from the same district, Churu.
What’s Raje’s stand
Vasundhara Raje was irked when the BJP’s ally Rashtriya Loktantrik Party MP Hanuman Beniwal accused her of secretly siding with Gehlot in the crisis. The dissident leader Sachin Pilot’s game plan was to split from Congress and form the government with the outside support of the BJP.
This way he wanted to form a separate party of the Congress dissidents and become the Chief Minister. Raje was against it and she and her supporters were not likely to extend their support to a government formed with the outside support of the BJP.
She was also against being a party to any attempt at making Pilot the Chief Minister. Raje conveyed her feelings to the party’s chief JP Nadda and also briefed him about the formation of the new party executive where her supporters have not been given adequate representation.
She is particularly unhappy with the scion of the Jaipur family Diya Singh, Loksabha MP from Rajsamand, being made vice-president as she is very junior in the party.
The number game
In the state assembly, the BJP has 72 members and at least 50 of them are with Raje. The BJP leadership is aware of the power that she wields and smelling a crisis the BJP has sent 12 of its MLA into hiding in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
The BJP leadership feels that a group which is loyal to Vasundhara may break away from the BJP and form a group to help the Congress government to foil the efforts of Sachin Pilot to form a government with BJP support.
Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria said the August 11 high court verdict will be crucial. If the high court prevents the BSP MLA from voting, Congress will try to save the government. “Under such circumstances, the 72 votes of the BJP and three votes of its allies would become crucial. So the party is cautious about its votes” said Kataria.
But Punia said that the party has not sent a dozen of its MLAs anywhere and they are free. But sources in the BJP said that a dozen BJP MLAs have been kept in hiding and would be set free only before the Assembly session on August 14.