It’s nine in the morning. The huge iron gates of the majestic Moti Mahal are thrown open. The guard bows as a Toyota Qualis cruises out.
The scion of the eerstwhile Bharatpur royalty, Vishvendra Singh, has come out of his fort to seek the blessings of his praja (subjects). His father, Maharaja Brijendra Singh, was the last of the Sinsinwar Jats to rule Bharatpur, from 1929 to 1947, before the region joined the Indian Union after Independence.
Not long ago, Vishvendra Singh was a BJP MP and political adviser to Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. But now he is a rebel. He says the BJP betrayed him.
“It had been decided as far back as July 3. I told the chief minister I’d like to contest from the Kumher-Deeg Assembly seat,” said Vishvendra, adding that Raje had agreed.
But when the BJP candidates’ list was declared, Vishvendra — then convalescing after an angioplasty operation — found state minister Digamber Singh fielded from Kumher-Deeg.
The former raja flew into a rage. “Vasundhara has vision, but sycophants surrounding her have blurred it. She is taking wrong decisions,” he said, justifying his resignation from the BJP.
This is not the first time that the BJP is getting a taste of his ire. Not given a say in ticket distribution in the 2003 elections, an angry Vishvendra barely campaigned, which is said to have cost the party nine seats. Not wanting to annoy him, the BJP did not initiate disciplinary action.
Local political observers claim he can influence voting in about 16 adjoining seats.
Vishvendra is locked in a straight battle with the BJP's Digamber Singh, also a Sinsinwar Jat.
Vishvendra's poll-eve resignation literally took the steam out of the BJP, already facing intense infighting, unrelenting rebels and Gujjar anger. The tough going just got tougher.