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Raje in soup, seeks party help

Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje has landed in the soup for laying the foundation stone for construction of a Haj House in a Hindu-majority area, writes Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Sep 26, 2006 04:34 IST

Last week, two BJP chief ministers went all out to woo their supporters and the public in general. One went to renew his Hindutva halo and the other worked on building a secular image.

The result is out. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has won accolades from the Sangh Parivar for enacting the new anti-conversion law. However, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has landed in the soup for laying the foundation stone for construction of a Haj House in a Hindu-majority area.

Raje, once an RSS favourite, is at their receiving end. So much so, that the Rajasthan CM has sought help from BJP president Rajnath Singh and other leaders to bail her out from the crisis.

A section of her cabinet, the RSS and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in Rajasthan have declared that they would not allow the construction of the Haj House near Jaipur.

Raje laid the foundation stone for the project worth Rs 10.73 crore near Ramasingpura village, about 20 km from Jaipur, amid violent protests by Sangh Parivar on September 20. On that day, 10 people were injured during protests by activists of the BJP, VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena. They objected to 15,000 square feet of land being given at a token price of one rupee to the Haj committee.

The BJP brigade in the state boycotted the function, which included Lok Sabha member and education minister Girdhari Lal Bhargav, MLAs Ghanshyam Tewari, Kali Charan Saraf, Surendra Pareek, Mohan Lal Gupta and Biru Singh Rathore.

Despite a last-minute RSS missive, Raje refused to put off the foundation laying ceremony, saying she would not be cowed down by protest spearheaded by the local unit of the BJP and education minister Ghanshyam Tiwari, who represents Sanganer in the state assembly.

A known critic of Raje, Tiwari said, "The construction of a Haj House at Sanganer on a pastoral land without taking the local people into confidence is uncalled for."

He said when Muslims were supposed to construct the House at Karbala (land allotted by the previous Congress government), why rake up a controversy by allowing its construction in a Hindu-dominated area.