Rajasthan BJP shifts MLAs in Gujarat amid poaching fears, internal rift

Rajasthan BJP shifts MLAs in Gujarat amid poaching fears, internal rift

PORBANDAR: After the rebellion by Sachin Pilot divided the Rajasthan Congress into two warring camps, divisions are erupting in the state BJP unit.

The BJP has shifted about two dozen of its MLAs into a resort in Gujarat which reflects the growing turmoil within its ranks.

Problems have compounded for the BJP’s central leadership just when they are expecting the fall of the Gehlot Government as their own clan is not united in Rajasthan.

This has prompted the BJP to park its MLAs in Gujarat fearing poaching and a scenario similar to Congress when Sachin Pilot brought the internal divisions to the fore.

Four MLAs of Udaipur district have been sent to Gujarat and mobiles of all MLAs are now switched off.

The BJP reportedly planned the move clandestinely on Friday and sent four of the six BJP MLAs of Udaipur to Gujarat, including Udaipur Rural MLA Phool Singh Meena, Mavali MLA Dharmanarayan Joshi, Salumbar MLA Amritlal Meena and Gogunda MLA Pratap Gameti. On Saturday, several others were flown out of Jaipur.

Gulab Chand Kataria, the Leader of the Opposition also spoke to the media on Saturday and said, “If there is a historic decision of the High Court on 6 BSP MLAs, then at that time our 75 votes will be very important. It is necessary for us to be alert. We will decide the future strategy only after the court’s decision on the 11th.”

The court has issued a notice to the six BSP MLAs who joined Congress and sought a reply by August 11.

For weeks, BJP leaders had been attacking the Gehlot camp for herding its MLAs in hotels in Jaipur and later in Jaisalmer. Now the BJP is also resorting to similar tactics but the party is calling it as a recreational trip by MLAs on their own initiative.

Sources say that all MLAs of the party may not be sent out of Rajasthan and some 15-20 MLAs may be sent to Madhya Pradesh.  

Kataria said, “we need to be careful about every vote in the Assembly and all MLAs are in touch with us and we know who is in which district. We are only being together and united but we don’t need to herd our MLAs which, if needed, would have been done a month ago.”

While the rift in the Congress is out in the open, the BJP too has many factions. Firstly, there is the RSS faction with state Chief Satish Poonia and Leader of Opposition Kataria as its prominent leaders.

Then comes the faction loyal to PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah which is led by Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.

The third faction is of Vasundhara Raje loyalists. Each faction is keen that their chosen leader should be the next CM in case there is a change of government in Rajasthan.

According to sources, the 2 MLAs loyal to former CM Vasundhara Raje, have written a letter to state BJP chief that if their leader is sidelined, the party will suffer huge losses.

The BJP has asked all its district Presidents to stay in touch with MLAs of their area.

Meanwhile, as the Assembly session of 14 August draws closer, there is hectic political activity even in the BJP High Command in Delhi. Party Chief, JP Nadda met two prominent leaders of the state, namely Vasundhara Raje and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat separately on Friday.

While Raje has been largely silent during the Rajasthan political crisis, Shekhawat has been accused of playing an active role in horse-trading to topple the Gehlot Government.

That the relations between Raje and Shekhawat are tense is a known fact in Rajasthan for years.

Sources say that during her meeting with Nadda, Vasundhara expressed her disappointment over a range of issues.

She is reportedly upset at the comments of Hanuman Beniwal, RLP MP from Nagaur, who recently claimed that Raje was trying to help the Gehlot Government survive.

Raje believes that such comments could not have been made without the encouragement of leaders from her own party. She also raised questions on the working of the state BJP unit.

Nadda is said to have advised Raje to show patience at a time when the state is going through a major political crisis. But she is supposed to have responded that while she supports the party’s ideology and programmes, there can be no compromise with self-respect.

During her last tenure as CM, Raje had opposed Gajendra Singh Shekhawat as state party chief despite Amit Shah’s pressure to accept him in that position.

After BJP lost power in Rajasthan, Raje has been sidelined and now political circles are closely watching whether Raje will stage a comeback in the current crisis or whether the part high command continues to ignore her demands.

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