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Vasundhara Raje undisputed leader, not queen

DNA   |  May 08, 2012, 10:41AM IST
Jaipur: Even a flurry of resignations and 48 hours of drama could not help the BJP make up its mind on Vasundhara Raje. While there were signs of unease among its national leaders over the crisis triggered by her, the party couldn’t muster the courage to take a final decision on Raje.
Raje’s supporters have been resigning since Saturday night, apparently to get her named as BJP’s chief minister candidate. Her detractors have been baying for her blood, saying she keeps holding the party to ransom.
Sources in Delhi said that the national leadership, despite proclaiming Raje's undisputed leadership in Rajasthan, was not keen on announcing her as the next chief ministerial candidate of the state. “Sitting BJP MLA Kiran Maheshwari held simultaneous meetings with party leaders including leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, to have Raje’s name declared as chief ministerial candidate, but the party withdrew itself from such a stand claiming it was too early a decision to make.
The sentiment reflected in party spokesperson Prakash Javdekar's statement who said, “Raje is undeniably our most popular leader in state. She has also served as CM.” Asked if she was the party’s nominee for the top job, he said, “It would be too early to say.”
Sources added the party leadership was concerned about the divide within the party and took the act of resignations by state leaders seriously.
With information percolating about national party leadership’s unhappiness over the resignation spree and possibility of state unit seek clarification over resignations, Raje issued an urgent appeal to party leaders and workers to put an end to the resignation spree. BJP has also decided to flex its muscles over Raje’s loyalists’ decision to offer resignations.
Reliably placed officials of BJP said the party has made up its mind to seek proof from legislators and BJP office-bearers of their resignations in support of Raje to verify their claims. Senior leaders conceded that the party would initiate action against those leaders who have acted against the party diktat and those who have spoken out against the party and its office bearers.
The message of possible action against Raje and her supporters circulated after party office-bearers in state, sitting and former presidents convened a hurriedly-called meeting in Jaipur on Monday, in what is now being regarded as a move to counter Raje’s “arm-twisting tactics”.
While the national BJP leaders were huddled in a conference in New Delhi to end the power struggle in Rajasthan unit, the Jaipur meeting, which took place at former BJP president and ex-MP Ramdas Agarwal’s residence, suggested action against “indiscipline”.
State BJP president Arun Chaturvedi who was until now a silent spectator categorically stated that such incidents should be prevented even if it means taking tough measures. “The incident has badly affected the morale of the worker. I have not received any resignation from anyone in party.”
Former party chief Lalit Kishore Chaturvedi was more forthcoming on the deliberations at the meeting. Terming the entire episode as unfortunate, he admitted that the state party chief has been advised to get the copies of all resignations and then act against those leaders.
"Particularly, against those, who made objectionable comments against the national leadership and the party; I have suggested the state party chief to initiate disciplinary action, including their ouster from the party," Chaturvedi said.
In a written appeal issued on Monday evening, Raje expressed gratitude for party rank and file for their strong feelings, but appealed to end the resignation spree. Party's in-charge for Rajasthan, Kaptan Singh Solanki, meanwhile, in New Delhi told journalists that the crisis will be fully resolved in next 24 hours. "All I can assure is that things will dramatically change for the better in next 24 hours."
An official statement released by the ex-MP Ramdas Agarwal appreciated how despite being a given a clean chit by the national party president to carry out the yatra, Gulab Chand Kataria cancelled the trek to keep the party united.
“Party MLAs embarked on resignation spree, which can’t be swallowed by any committed party worker,” he lamented.

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