BJP rift sharpens in Rajasthan as Raje loyalist Meghwal to bring censure motion against Kataria

Express News Service

JAIPUR: In a move that has sharpened the rift in the Rajasthan BJP, former Speaker and senior BJP MLA Kailash Meghwal will bring a censure motion against the party’s current Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria. Meghwal has written a letter to the state BJP chief Satish Poonia informing him about the decision and has asked Poonia to preside over the BJP legislature meeting where the censure motion will be introduced.  

In a letter also sent to national BJP President JP Nadda, Meghwal has claimed that Kataria’s irresponsible statements damaged the party in the recent byelections. He has also alleged that Kataria had taken huge sums of money for distributing tickets in the past.

The move by Meghwal, just ahead of the monsoon session of the Rajasthan Assembly, is set to intensify the infighting in the BJP as he is considered a strong supporter of Vasundhara Raje. In the letter to state party president Poonia, Meghwal accused the Leader of Opposition Gulabchand Kataria of harming the party’s interests in the recently held bypolls through his statements.

In his letter, Meghwal has claimed that he will bring a censure proposal condemning Kataria during the meeting of party legislators. The resolution will be to condemn Kataria for his statements on Maharana Pratap and Lord Rama, which ‘caused loss to the party’ during the recent by-elections, according to Meghwal’s letter to Poonia written on September 4. In the campaign for the bypolls in Rajsamand in April, Kataria had sparked a controversy by making ‘derogatory’ remarks on Rajput ruler Maharana Pratap which triggered widespread criticism. Later, he also said that without the BJP, ‘Shri Ram’ would have been in the sea.

Meghwal, in his letter, also alleged that though Kataria tries to claim a clean image for himself, under him, posts and party tickets have been sold for lakhs and crores in the past. Meghwal even stated that but for RSS backing for Kataria, numerous people will speak out against him.

Meghwal even reveals in his letter that in 2008 some senior BJP leaders of the state, namely Gulab Chand Kataria, Ghanshyam Tiwari and Arun Chaturvedi had vowed on Ganga-Jal that they would never support Vasundhara Raje. But for his own selfish interests, Kataria was the first one to break this vow and switched over to the Raje camp for some years. Besides BJP national president JP Nadda, Meghwal has sent copies of his letter to several senior leaders including RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Dattatreya Hosabole, Union minister Amit Shah, Rajasthan in charge Arun Singh, Om Mathur and Vasundhara Raje.

Meghwal’s letter emerged on the day that Rajasthan in-charge Arun Singh came to Jaipur on Wednesday for a two-day trip — and it has quickly gone viral on social media. In a guarded response, Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria has stated that he will “happily accept whatever decision the party seniors take on this matter.”  

Meanwhile, the BJP has started a damage control exercise on Meghwal’s letter controversy. Talking to reporters at the airport on Wednesday, BJP state in-charge Arun Singh gave a stern warning to Meghwal and advised him to refrain from making such allegations. “I will talk to him to find out why he has written this letter. Such statements cause damage to the party and hurt the sentiments of lakhs of workers,” he said.

Political observers, however, do not see this as just a personal issue between Meghwal and Kataria. They believe this matter reflects the long-standing bitterness between Raje loyalists and the RSS lobby in the state unit. With this row exploding just a day ahead of the Assembly session, the focus of the Rajasthan BJP will now be less on putting the Congress in the dock and more on tackling the dispute between party veterans Meghwal and Kataria and preventing the divide within the state unit from becoming a huge embarrassment.