Seven years ago, Chief minister Vasundhara Raje had ordered a CID probe against the former Union Minister Jaswant Singh for hosting an opium soiree — part of the cultural and traditional fabric of Western Rajasthan — for her dissidents at his native village Jasol.
It was also the first major instance when the seething rift between Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and former Mr. Jaswant Singh came to light.
On Monday, that rift culminated in Mr. Singh filing his nomination as an Independent from Barmer after being denied the BJP ticket.
On Tuesday, however, Col. Sonaram Chaudhary — to whom Mr. Jaswant Singh lost out in the ticket race—used the platform of the public rally attended by Ms. Raje in his support — to push for liberalisation of opium regulations.
During his speech, Col. Chaudhary spelled out his agenda for the Barmer parliamentary constituency, talking about education, roads, rail links and liberalisation of visa rules with regard to Pakistan.
And then came the most unusual request, followed by deafening applause from the crowd gathered at Barmer's Adarsh Stadium for the rally.
“And one more little matter madam [relating to] doda...afeem [opium]...Although It is not good to take it...but some old men...70-80 year olds...they need it...but the licensed quantity is not sufficient...i request with folded hands...to do something about this,” said Col.Chaudhary.
Probably realising that he had said something unusual, Mr. Chaudhary shifted to the topic of river-linking.
While Ms. Raje had been quick to act against Jaswant Singh for hosting a private soiree, it remains to be seen whether she will take any action Col. Chaudhary for advocating liberalisation of a substance, which—while not illegal — is widely abused in this region and has assumed the proportions of a serious social evil.