As the “deadline” set by the BJP leadership for former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje to step down as the Leader of the Opposition ended with the sine die adjournment of the Rajasthan Assembly — after what turned out to be a single day special session on Thursday — all eyes are set on the next move of the “defiant” leader.
On perhaps her last day as the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajasthan Assembly, Ms. Raje appeared to be in command over the four dozen odd party MLAs who sat on a “dharna” at the entrance of the Assembly building while the proceedings were in progress inside.
The ambiguity over her fate continued as Ms.Raje sat on the sandstone steps of the Assembly — with MLAs who supported her and others not so friendly, such as Ghanshyam Tiwari and Gulab Chand Kataria — for a few hours.
“Post or no post, I will continue to serve the people of the State in whatever capacity I am, without hurting the interest of the party,” said Ms. Raje, who spoke to the media for the first time after the crisis started about a month back.
Ms. Raje only once betrayed her displeasure with the BJP leadership over the way she was being treated.
“If the party had left the option to me, then what was the need for them to make statements in Delhi every day?” Ms.Raje said, when asked whether the party had left it to her to choose between Delhi and Rajasthan. “Rajasthan is my karmabhoomi'. I have chosen it as my karmabhoomi'.”
The ruling Congress party did not give Ms. Raje a chance to attend the House by refusing to withdraw the suspension of three BJP MLAs — Gyandev Ahuja, Hem Singh Bhadana, and Bhawani Singh Rajawat — prior to the start of the day's proceedings as demanded by the BJP.
However, the Congress did the same before the House adjourned sine die around 12.54 p.m.
Inside the House, Home Minister Shanti Dhariwal made an indirect dig at Ms. Raje when he commented on the BJP refusing to apologise for the acts of its MLAs. “They are not the types who obey even their party High Command,” he said.
“Official” word soon
Though there was no commitment yet from her stepping down from the post, the State BJP leadership maintained that it would be “official” soon.
“It is now a matter of formal announcement,” said a senior leader, who has been maintaining of late that Ms. Raje has already put in her papers.
As Ms.Raje played what appeared to be the “tire them out” game with her leadership, cracks started appearing in the party ranks in Rajasthan, with former Lok Sabha member Usha Meena and former Rajya Sabha Member Narain Singh Manaklav criticising the party's decisions on Ms. Raje and Jawant Singh respectively.
Ms. Meena has sent in her resignation from the primary membership of the party, while Mr. Manaklav has written to party president Rajnath Singh seeking his apology for the expulsion of Mr. Jaswant Singh without a hearing.