Raje elected BJP leader in House

Special Correspondent

Party sees no anti-incumbency factor for poll defeat

Presence of rebels a major reason for debacle: Naidu

JAIPUR: The Bharatiya Janata Party is retaining its old team in Rajasthan despite the electoral reverses it suffered under their leadership in the just concluded Assembly elections. The 78-member strong BJP Legislature Party which met for the first time after the election results on Tuesday “unanimously” elected former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje as its leader while the party’s Central observer, Venkaiah Naidu, gave enough hints that Omprakash Mathur, the State president, would continue.

“The party leadership has decided to continue both of them in their present responsibilities. The next big challenge before them is the Lok Sabha election,” Mr. Naidu said talking to newspersons at the end of the brief session in which Ms. Raje was elected the leader. Former Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria proposed her name while another former Minister Ghanshyam Tiwari along with few others seconded it. Both Mr. Kataria and Mr. Tiwari are Raje critics and were potential candidates for the post.

There had been reports that Mr. Mathur had offered to step down soon after the party losing the elections in the State blaming the leadership of Ms.Raje.

The party leadership, acting fast, summoned both the leaders to Delhi and made them remain there for a few days till the tempers cooled down.

The leadership was convinced that there was very little time for change before the Lok Sabha election. And for the same reason the party took a public posture that the Raje Government did well but other factors went against the party in Rajasthan.

“It was a very close race in Rajasthan. The mandate was not anti-Government. People were happy with the Government,” Mr. Naidu said while trying to hold on to the party’s posture during the election campaign that there was no anti-incumbency in the State. “There was no anti-incumbency factor in Rajasthan elections,” he said juxtaposing the verdicts of Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in the past when the ruling parties were thrown out of power. “There was no dispute over the (former) Chief Minister’s popularity,” he added. Mr. Mathur was also present at the media interaction though Ms. Raje was missing.

“The Congress also did not get a majority,” Mr. Naidu pointed out referring to the present ruling party in the State not crossing the 100-mark in the 200-strong House.

“The Congress got more seats than us and we accepted defeat,” he explained. “But for the good work of the Government the party would not have done even this much,” he asserted.

Mr. Naidu gave the presence of a large number of party rebels in the fray and the absence of “desirable” coordination between the party organization and the Government as reasons for the defeat of the BJP in Rajasthan.

Recommended for you