It is not without a reason that the state BJP didn’t suspend Kota MLA Prahlad Gunjal until orders came from the central leadership.
There’s a history to his relationship with chief minister Vasundhara Raje. The legislator had once been a favourite of party leaders for his oratory, then fell out with Vasundhara Raje but returned to her camp a few years later.
Party sources say that for the past few months, he had been upset with her again for not including him in her cabinet despite the fact that he trounced a heavyweight politician in last year’s assembly polls.
In the urban local body polls held recently, he wanted one of his men to be projected as the mayor candidate but that didn’t happen.
It is also common knowledge in political circles that other BJP leaders from Kota are not too comfortable with his rise.
Gunjal began as a student leader and became an influential politician in the Hadauti region in south-eastern Rajasthan.
In 2007, he fell out with Raje when he aligned with his community – Gujjars – during the agitation demanding ST status. Gunjal was suspended from BJP for “anti-party” activities in June, 2007.
In the 2008 assembly elections, he fought from Hindoli constituency in Bundi district as a Loktantrik Samajwadi Party candidate and lost.
But a few months later, when the 2009 parliamentary elections were announced, Vasundhara Raje decided to patch up with him.
Sources said that the reason was his clout among the Gujjar community, a decisive vote bank in her son Dushyant Singh’s constituency Jhalawar-Baran.
In the 2013 assembly polls, when the party was finding it difficult to decide on a name to take on Congress heavyweight from Kota, former home minister Shanti Dhariwal, the search ended in Gunjal.
But despite defeating Dhariwal, Raje did not consider Gunjal for a ministerial berth.
Sources say that he was offered a post like parliamentary secretary or a deputy chief whip of the party, which he declined.
Since Gunjal is an MLA, any action against had to be taken by the leader of House, which, in this case, is the chief minister.
The central leadership’s decision to suspend Gunjal therefore came as a breather for Raje.