As the Opposition mounted pressure on the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership on Thursday to remove Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, the party appeared in no mood to yield to the demand.
While the Congress said the President and the Governor would be > petitioned for Ms. Raje’s removal , BJP sources said if the party yielded on one resignation, it would have to do so on more. “The party believes that if we give in to one demand, there will be a cascading effect,” a source said. The party leadership is worried about the effect any decision it takes will have on the Bihar Assembly elections.
Removing Ms. Raje at this juncture will be an admission of guilt, BJP leaders believe, especially after senior leaders like Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari defended her in the past few days. Mr. Gadkari led a delegation of BJP leaders, including Ms. Raje, to London in July 2011. The Congress alleged that Ms. Raje had extended her stay then and signed an affidavit in favour of former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi in August.
Rajasthan Congress president Sachin Pilot released copies of Lalit Modi’s affidavit to the U.K. Border Agency in which he allegedly said his immigration plea rested mainly on the statements of three persons, one of them Ms. Raje. “The Rajasthan Chief Minister has not denied the signature is hers. She has been claiming that she signed in her personal capacity. You don’t put your official residence address and designation on affidavits signed in personal capacity,” Mr. Pilot said.
Congress for State-wide stir in Rajasthan
Rajasthan Congress president Sachin Pilot said on Thursday that the BJP was fighting shy of taking action in what was “an open and shut case” against Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje for signing a statement backing former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi’s immigration plea in 2011 when she was Leader of the Opposition.
The party’s State unit would spread its agitation from Jaipur to all districts from Friday. It was shocking that the then Leader of the Opposition put a condition that her support for Lalit Modi should be kept confidential and not be known to Indian authorities.
The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) also demanded Ms. Raje’s resignation. “It is shocking that the then Leader of the Opposition in the Rajasthan Assembly made a conditionality that her support for Lalit Modi should be kept confidential and not be known to the Indian authorities. This is a new low from a political leader and a national affront,” it said.
Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma hinted at disruptions in the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament.
“The Home Minister’s statement [no Minister will resign] underscores the arrogance of the BJP government, its obduracy and confrontational attitude. This will have serious consequences for India’s parliamentary democracy,” Mr. Sharma said.
While the party continued to brazen it out, Union Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu told a television news agency: “There is no crisis in the BJP.”