A split within the local BJP rank and file was evident during chunari yatra taken out by BJP MLA Sudarshan Gupta on Sunday. He represents Indore assembly constituency.
Barring Malini Gaud, other party MLAs including Usha Thakur, Ramesh Mendola, Mahendra Hardia, Manoj Patel and Rajesh Sonekar stayed away from the event. Mayor and senior BJP leader Krishna Murari Moghe too was absent. Chief guest and national BJP general secretary Ram Lal left early as yatra started late and he had to take flight to New Delhi.
The only saving grace was presence of state BJP president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan, city BJP president Kailash Sharma, Indore Development Authority chairman and ex-city president Shankar Lalwani.
While it was expected that Gupta’s archrival and BJP MLA Usha Thakur would shun the yatra, absence of other MLAs indicated that all is not well with the local BJP unit. "Fissures are deep and now in open," a city BJP office bearer remarked.
A day before chunari yatra, that is on Saturday, Usha Thakur had organised ‘Durga saptshati paath’, which was attended by most BJP leaders. Over 5,000 women and men recited the Sanskrit verses devoted to goddess Durga at the event, which was considered her show of strength and direct challenge to Sudarshan Gupta’s chunari yatra.
Usha Thakur wanted to contest 2013 assembly elections from assembly segment one, a constituency she nurtured, freed from Congress stranglehold and represented earlier. But she was given ticket from assembly constituency three from where she won.
The chunari yatra is an annual procession started by Gupta wherein chunari (two-kilometre long saree) is offered to goddess Durga at Bijasan. The procession starts from Bada Ganpati and ends at Bijasan temple after covering distance of two kilometres.
The theme of this year’s yatra was cow slaughter ban. State BJP president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan supported ban on cow slaughter and said an effective law should be put in place.