Raje supporters want her as state chief



Jaipur/New Delhi: The crisis in the Bharatiya Janata Party's Rajasthan unit continued Monday as more party legislators came out in support of former chief minister Vasundhara Raje and demanded that she be made the state president even as party leaders said the issue had been sorted out.

Over 60 legislators have offered their resignations over the past two days showing their solidarity with Raje, party sources in Jaipur said. They said Raje loyalists want her to be appointed state unit chief and lead the party in the assembly polls next year.

In a new stance, Raje supporters are demanding removal of party's state president Arun Chaturvedi and the party's in-charge Kaptan Singh Solanki.

"The legislators who have offered to resign in support of Raje have demanded that she be made the party's Rajasthan unit in-charge. There area lso whispers regarding seeking assurance from the party high command to declare Raje the next chief minister candidate for BJP in Rajasthan," said a senior BJP leader in Jaipur pleading anonymity.

Party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar sought to play down the differences, and said the rift had been sorted out.

"The clouds have dispersed. The wait is for rain," Javadekar said in New Delhi.

Answering questions about demand of Raje loyalists that she should be projected as chief ministerial candidate, he said she is the Leader of Opposition in the assembly.

"She was chief minister. She is a leader," Javadekar said.

The simmering differences within the party had come to the fore Saturday evening when Raje threatened to resign from the party's primary membership over senior BJP legislator Gulab Chand Kataria's 'Lok Jagaran Yatra'.

Demanding that the yatra be cancelled, Raje Saturday had stormed out of the party's core committee meeting in Jaipur and threatened to quit. Katariya had called off the yatra immediately after Raje's threat.

"Over 60 legislators have offered their resignation to Raje since Sunday. Over 50 legislators including Kalicharan Saraf, Digamber Singh, Gyan Dev Ahuja, Rohitashva Sharma, Ashok Parnami and Mohanlal Gupta had already offered their resignation by Sunday afternoon. They met her at her Jaipur residence where a series of meetings are being held," said another BJP leader, who did not want to be named.

There were also reports that Raje has even refused to go to Delhi after she was invited for talks by senior party leaders, including Arun Jaitley and Kirit Somaiya.

"It really has turned out to be a fight between RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh) and non-RSS supporters as Chaturvedi and Kataria are being supported by the RSS faction. Raje, on the other hand, is being supported by non-RSS faction... it really would be interesting to see who wins this battle,"said Rahul Rajpurohit, a keen political watcher.

IANS