Vasundhara Raje steps down as Rajasthan opposition chief

Vasundhara Raje steps down as Rajasthan opposition chief
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First Published: Fri, Oct 23 2009. 10 41 PM IST

Scathing attack: Raje on Friday handed over a three-page letter addressed to the party president and members of the parliamentary board in which she alleged the BJP was “lacking in internal democracy”
Scathing attack: Raje on Friday handed over a three-page letter addressed to the party president and members of the parliamentary board in which she alleged the BJP was “lacking in internal democracy”
Updated: Fri, Oct 23 2009. 10 41 PM IST
New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vasundhara Raje resigned on Friday as head of the opposition in Rajasthan, giving in to a three-month-old demand of the party, but not without launching a scathing attack on the BJP and saying that she had been discriminated against.
Analysts say the resignation could further entangle the party leadership in infighting and add to the lack of clarity about its future.
“Rajasthan leader Vasundhara Raje’s resignation has been accepted by the party,” party general secretary Ananth Kumar told reporters after a meeting of the party’s parliamentary board in New Delhi.
Scathing attack: Raje on Friday handed over a three-page letter addressed to the party president and members of the parliamentary board in which she alleged the BJP was “lacking in internal democracy”. Ramesh Pathania / Mint
Raje was reluctant to step down after party president Rajnath Singh asked her to resign on 17 August after losses suffered by the BJP in state and Lok Sabha elections. She rallied party legislators from the state to express support for her in September.
“What good would it be for the BJP if Raje is replaced with a political nobody in a crucial state like Rajasthan? And would it not add to the troubles if Raje, after such treatment, is reinstated in the party’s central leadership?” asked Kamal M. Chenoy, professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.
Raje, former Rajasthan chief minister, met party leader L.K. Advani at his residence and is said to have submitted her resignation from the post of the BJP’s legislative party chief in Rajasthan. She was reported to have met party leader Sushma Swaraj on Thursday night.
According to party insiders aware of the development, along with her resignation, Raje on Friday handed over a three-page letter addressed to the party president and members of the parliamentary board in which she alleged the BJP was “lacking in internal democracy”.
She also said some central leaders worked against her and the party’s interests while she was Rajasthan chief minister and made things difficult for her in the December 2008 assembly polls that the Congress party won.
The BJP, after its defeat in three state assembly polls, for which results were declared on Thursday, had announced that it was time for the party to show unity.
Raje’s letter says she had been humiliated on several occasions and that she was informed of many developments concerning her by the media, said a party leader requesting not be quoted.
Friday’s parliamentary board meet also took stock of the party’s performance in Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh.
The meeting was not attended by senior leaders Venkaiah Naidu and Murli Manohar Joshi.
Analysts said recent developments in the BJP substantiate Raje’s charge.
“One person’s defiance could be another’s exercise of democracy. The party could have a tough time ahead due to the wrong message conveyed down to cadres. It can throw out Jaswant Singh for writing a book while it decides to do nothing even after having a mouthful from Arun Shourie,” Chenoy said.
Party ideologues said there needs to be care in dealing with matters of internal dynamics.
“The episode suggests that the party ought to discuss and be careful in handling internal issues so that a right message is conveyed to the party supporters. This is (the) time for introspection,” said political analyst and party member G.V.L. Narsimha Rao.
A meeting of the parliamentary board held on 16 October on the issue of Raje ended inconclusively and saw bitter arguments between Singh and Advani.
After submitting her resignation, Raje drove to party veteran and former Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee’s residence “to seek his blessings”.
“I am a disciplined member of the party and would work on whatever responsibility I am given,” she said. “I have conveyed to the party whatever I wanted to say in a letter.”
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First Published: Fri, Oct 23 2009. 10 41 PM IST