The stand-off between former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and the BJP leadership over her being asked to quit as Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly continued on Saturday even as it appeared that both sides have further hardened their positions.
The 60-odd MLAs who returned from Delhi after informing party president Rajnath Singh that they wanted the leadership to retain Ms. Raje as Opposition leader continued to hold consultations among themselves at her Civil Lines residence here. The BJP State leadership, till now tight-lipped on the party directive to Ms. Raje to step down, started speaking out, apparently on instructions from Mr. Singh.
The newly appointed State party president Arun Chaturvedi was categorical when he said the party leadership had asked Ms. Raje to step down as early as on August 10, the day after she had heated exchanges with senior partymen at a high-level meeting.
However, Ms. Raje continued in denial mode, refusing to acknowledge any kind of directive from the party asking her to quit.
At the same time, Ms. Raje gave enough hints that she could go to any extent if need be.
“I have the support of more than 60 MLAs. I enjoy the majority support,” she said. “No question of her resigning,” said a close ally.
Some of the MLAs have even started talking about a split.
But the veiled threats of Ms. Raje walking away with a chunk of MLAs do not appear to bother the faction opposed to her.
At the flag-hoisting function in the party office on Independence Day, former Deputy Chief Minister Harishanker Bhabhra was heard saying: “We all know what had befallen Uma Bharti, Kalyan Singh and Madan Lal Khurana after they left the BJP. If she dares, she would be doing so at her peril.”