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Blow to Raje as BJP state unit boss sacked

Rajasthan CM's close aide and state BJP chief, Mahesh Chandra Sharma, was sacked to make way for Om Mathur, a RSS functionary, reports Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Jan 02, 2008 00:33 IST
Shekhar Iyer
Shekhar Iyer
Hindustan Times

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's close aide and state BJP chief, Mahesh Chandra Sharma, was sacked to make way for Om Mathur, a RSS functionary who handled organisational work during the recent polls in Gujarat.

Sharma had put in his papers earlier as asked by party chief Rajnath Singh in what was seen as a move to pacify Raje's detractors in her cabinet and BJP.

With a year left for the assembly polls, Mathur will endeavour to bring together Raje and the dissident leaders to put up a united image of the party.

With the central BJP still in favour of going to the polls under Raje's leadership, senior leaders decided to send Mathur to Rajasthan in the hope he would be more acceptable to the chief minister's critics who have flayed her style of functioning.

Raje agreed to Mathur's appointment after other leaders including Ramdas Aggarwal were not keen to take up the position. As Narendra Modi has proved that anti-incumbency factor of a state government is no hindrance for winning the polls if its performance was up to the mark, Raje is under pressure to tone up her ministry's image, according to BJP leaders.

Mahesh Chandra Sharma was considered a staunch supporter of the chief minister. He found it difficult to run the party as dissident leaders boycotted meetings. They had even refused to attend the meeting attended by L K Advani, recently.

The dissident leaders found an anchor in Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Jaswant Singh, who was cut up with Raje's style of functioning. But a lunch hosted by Singh at his ancestral village Jasol in Rajasthan's Barmer district on October 31 proved to be his downfall following allegations that he had served opium to his guests. Singh, however, had denied the charge.

The rift between Singh and Raje widened after his wife filed a police complaint in May against the press that had printed posters showing Raje and other party leaders as gods and goddesses.

On December 24, Raje carried out a long-awaited ministry. She accepted the resignation of senior cabinet minister Kirori Lal Meena, who had been "threatening" to quit if the government recommended Scheduled Tribe status for Gujjars.

Raje also took decisive steps to make sure that ministers do not play strident caste politics. She balanced the two Meena exits by including former ministers Ram Kishore Meena and Nand Lal Meena.