Special Correspondent

Denies confrontation with State RSS leadership

JAIPUR: Amid rumours of a fresh offensive from the dissident groups within the Rajasthan Bharatiya Janata Party, the State BJP president Mahesh Sharma has ruled out any chance of his removal from the post. He denied reports appearing in a section of the local media about a move to replace him.

“These are all rumours; a figment of media imagination,” said Dr. Sharma. He also denied any confrontation between him and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leadership in the State as well as between the party organisation and the Government. “I have no differences with the Sangh,” he asserted.

He appreciated the RSS role in forming “Bhai samitis” (brotherhood committees) to defuse the recent tension between Gujjars and Meenas.

The local papers had reported that the RSS leadership in the State was unhappy with Dr. Sharma and wanted to replace him by someone from their camp.

Unhappy

As such Dr. Sharma too has an RSS background but of late the Sangh Parivar is said to be unhappy about his proximity to Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.

The reports had said that Ms. Raje was to effect a Cabinet reshuffle soon by inducting a few ministers and dropping a few.

Ms. Raje’s visit to Delhi the other day to meet the party leadership added fuel to the rumours on changes in the offing. Dr. Sharma too returned to Jaipur from Delhi only a couple of days ago.

Interaction

According to sources, the Chief Minister during her interaction with party seniors strongly defended Dr. Sharma and warned against acting on the dissidents’ demand.

She reportedly told the leaders that removing a Brahmin from the post of the president would prove counter-productive for the party, especially when the Congress had just installed a leader from the community as its Rajasthan unit president.

Her opponents’ camp, led by former Minister Lalit Kishore Chaturvedi, had been propping up the name of Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria as the candidate for the post.

Dr. Sharma, who refuted the charge that the organisation was having a “subdued” existence in the BJP-ruled State, refused to comment on the chances of a Cabinet reshuffle. It was the prerogative of the Chief Minister to decide, he said. However, he conceded that the issue had come up in the recent meetings he had with the Chief Minister.

Dr. Sharma announced the meeting of the party’s State executive, scheduled in the temple town of Sanwaliaji in Chittorgarh, this weekend in which senior leader L.K. Advani is expected to participate.