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For BJP, the enemy is within Rajasthan

Growing rebellion in the ranks after denial of assembly election nominations to several senior leaders in Rajasthan has become a major headache for the state's ruling BJP.

jaipur Updated: Nov 16, 2008 12:00 IST

Growing rebellion in the ranks after denial of assembly election nominations to several senior leaders in Rajasthan has become a major headache for the state's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Rajasthan, which has 200 assembly seats, goes to the polls on December 4. The BJP had 121 seats in the outgoing assembly while the main oppositon Congress party had 53.

Political analysts say the BJP may not be able to retain its support base because of internal bickerings.

"The dissidence has become so open in the state that every day we see some group or the other staging a protest in front of the BJP office in Jaipur," said Vijay Sharma, a political analyst.

The BJP had secured 39.2 per cent of the votes polled in the 2003 state assembly elections. However, this time with factionalism so rampant, the party would find it difficult to secure this vote per centage, Sharma added.

Having announced 182 candidates so far, the BJP has denied nominations to senior party leaders like Hari Shanker Bhabra, deputy chief minister in the BS Shekhawat government, Ramnarain Vishnoi, deputy speaker of the state assembly and ministers LN Dave and Prabhu Lal Saini, among others.

Some of them are thinking of fighting the elections as rebels.

The BJP is also facing problems from Kirori Lal Meena, a minister in the Vasundhara Raje government and a Meena community leader, who has already made known his displeasure over ticket distribution.

He has conveyed to the party that he will not join the campaign team. The Meenas are a dominant tribal community in Rajasthan and they comprise 13 to 15 per cent of Rajasthan's population of over 56 million as per 2001 census.

Meena's anger may affect the BJP's prospects in 20 to 30 constituencies. Party leader Vishwendra Singh's decision to join the Congress may also harm the BJP in over 20 constituencies, especially in Bharatpur, Dholpur and Karauli districts.

Singh, who hails from the royal family of Bharatpur, is a Jat. He resigned from the BJP as its sitting member of parliament from Bharatpur, alleging that huge money had changed hands in the distribution of nominations. Jats have a major influence in Rajasthan and the community is a force to reckon with in over 40 constituencies.

The BJP's strategy of fielding five of its sitting MPs in the assembly elections has also caused heartburn among the legislators and senior workers, who feel the party's national leaders and Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had hurt their aspirations.

The party has decided to field Sriganganagar MP Nihal Chand from the Raisinghnagar assembly constituency, Chittorgarh's Srichand Kripalani from Badi Sadri, Udaipur MP Kiran Maheshwari from Rajsamand, Kota's Raghuveer Kaushal from Anta and Banswara MP Dhansingh Rawat from Banswara.

Raje is already facing opposition from her party colleagues over the central leadership's decision to project her as the next chief minister. The party workers' grouse is against her "autocratic style of functioning" and they are not comfortable with Raje being the chief ministerial candidate.

"Even in ticket selection, she has been autocratic," a party worker told IANS on condition of anonymity.

First Published: Nov 16, 2008 11:53 IST