Crisis in Rajasthan BJP; Raje threatens to quit, Kataria calls off yatra

Crisis in Rajasthan BJP; Raje threatens to quit, Kataria calls off yatra

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Jaipur:  The BJP's infighting in Rajasthan is once again out in the open - this time over a proposed yatra by a senior Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh-backed (RSS) leader of the party, Gulab Chand Kataria. On Saturday evening, in a meeting of the state core committee to decide whether Mr Kataria should go ahead with his yatra, the rift within became so severe that Vasundhara Raje came out of the meeting and threatened to quit the party.

"Despite the discussions in the core committee and our request that this yatra should be postponed, he wants to go ahead with the yatra. But I feel any yatra should strengthen the party and its workers and not create differences. Under the circumstances as I can't represent the voice of our workers, I feel I should resign from the party," said Vasundhara Raje, Leader of Opposition in Rajasthan.

Mr Kataria, the Home Minister of Rajasthan in the former Raje government, is considered the BJP's strong man in the Mewar region of south Rajasthan, but the Vasundhara faction sees the yatra as a challenge to her supremacy, and is opposing it. They allege the yatra was announced unilaterally - a charge that Mr Kataria denies.

Meanwhile, BJP leader Kiran Maheshwari, along with six other party leaders from south Rajasthan, has sent her resignation to the state party president over the yatra. However, minutes after Ms Raje threatened to quit, Mr Kataria, who was earlier adamant of going ahead with his Lok Jagaran Yatra, decided to call it off.

"Vasundhara ji has threatened to resign as she is angry over my yatra. But I am a loyal worker of the party and its organisation and to keep that intact I've decided to cancel my yatra. I am a soldier of the party and will make whatever sacrifice is needed in the interest of the party," said Mr Kataria.
For years, the BJP's Rajasthan unit has been vertically split between supporters of former chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and the RSS-backed faction that's opposed to Ms Raje's domination in the state. While Ms Raje's resignation threat has, for the moment, put a lid on the Kataria yatra, how the BJP's factional feud plays itself out, in coming days, will be closely watched in Rajasthan.

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