IN THE first visible signs of factionalism in the ruling BJP in Madhya Pradesh, national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya has targeted the government led by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan as well as state party chief Nandkumar Chouhan.
In an interview to a local television channel on Monday, Vijayvargiya warned that the “ills that come with power are slowly becoming apparent… if we are not careful, we may find the going tough in the next elections.”
“Corruption was always there, but in the first 10 years of BJP rule, it was under control. However, it is now rampant at lower level… The bureaucrats don’t respect (party) workers. Some workers complain to me when I am in Delhi, but not everyone can come to Delhi,” he said.
Vijayvargiya also warned Nandkumar, who is known to be close to the CM, not to forget his haisiyat (status). “Nandkumar should not become someone’s mouthpiece. He should keep workers’ interests in mind and not try to protect officers,” he said. “He mistakenly believes that he is the chief minister, hence he is talking about following Raj Dharma. His dharma is associated with the organisation and he should complete this task. He should think about Raj Dharma when he gets to occupy the (CM’s) chair. I don’t cross the line and I expect him to stay within his limit too,’’ he said.
The war of words between the two leaders began when Vijayvargiya tweeted on September 3, “we had promised residents of Indore… a metro (rail) but the state government’s speed suggests we will get a bullock cart, not metro.’’ He later deleted the tweet, before posting another tweet which shifted the blame to officials.
Reacting to his tweet, Nandkumar said on September 7, “Since going to Delhi, his understanding about MP has lessened a bit”.
On September 10, Nandkumar was quoted as saying that he had followed his Raj Dharma while asking Vijayvargiya to refrain from saying things that embarrass the party.
When contacted on Tuesday, the state BJP chief claimed he had only said dharma, not Raj Dharma. “What I said was in the interest of organisation. I am aware of my limit,’’ he said, alleging that he had been misquoted.
Vijayvargiya, a powerful MLA who was once in the running for the CM’s post, did not return calls and sent a text message that he would not be able to talk.
In the interview, Vijayvargiya also recalled that in 2007, he had stopped Damoh Lok Sabha member Prahlad Patel, who was then not with the BJP, from talking about CM Chouhan’s wife, Sadhna Singh, in connection with the dumper case, at a press conference.
“I am disclosing it publicly for the first time. I requested Patel, who was carrying lots of documents, not to talk about Sadhna Bhabhiji. You may accuse the CM, but not his wife,’’ he said.
When contacted, Patel confirmed that Vijayvargiya had made that request. Patel was then with Uma Bharati’s Bhartiya Janshakti Party, but has since joined the BJP.
Meanwhile, BJP leaders questioned Vijayvargiya’s motive in speaking about the dumper case, in which the CM and his wife have already received a clean chit. “He wants to bring back the focus on the case and, thereby, remind people that the CM’s family was accused of corruption,’’ said a party leader from Indore.