October 10, 2015 11:38:09 am
Senior BJP leader Ghanshyam Tiwari, who was allegedly manhandled by supporters of another party leader last week, resigned from the chairmanship of the state assembly’s library committee on Friday.
Tiwari’s resignation is the first step towards his year-long, statewide ‘rath yatra’ — being perceived by many as a symbolic act of rebellion against Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and the current party leadership.
It is also being seen as Tiwari’s last attempt at political redemption.
“He is fighting against Rajasthan’s political colonization. The state leadership has become a reservoir of outsiders who have nothing to do with Rajasthan,” said a pro-Tiwari BJP insider.
Speaking to The Indian Express on Friday, Tiwari said he resigned from the house panel, keeping in mind an old advice given to him by the late BJP patriarch and former Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.
“Rajasthani politics has always been based on mutual respect, even among rivals. The bitter political atmosphere prevailing these days is new to the state,” Tiwari said.
“I will travel across the state for the next one year, re-building Rajasthan’s rajneetik sanskriti (political culture/values/etiquette) among the party’s grassroot workers,” he said.
A vocal Raje detractor, Tiwari has been out of action from state’s mainstream political machine for almost two years now.
Before the 2013 assembly elections, Tiwari along with present home minister Gulab Chand Kataria, Ramdas Agarwal and other senior leaders had openly opposed Raje’s candidature for chief ministership.
After the BJP won a landslide mandate under Raje’s leadership — first in the assembly elections and later in the Lok Sabha polls — Tiwari has been sidelined by the state leadership.
Last Friday’s incident where Tiwari and his supporters were heckled at an education event in the city, allegedly by supporters of Jaipur MP Ramcharan Bohra, is being perceived as the senior leader’s tipping point against the BJP’s state leadership.
“I was questioned ‘Who are you?’…some workers manhandled and fractured my hand. I remained calm because I did not want to make it an issue but I realised that they had no BJP ideology in them, no manners,” PTI quoted Tiwari as telling his supporters in Jaipur on Thursday.
Even the Congress condemned the incident, with former chief minister Ashok Gehlot expressing his displeasure at the senior leader’s mistreatment. “Tiwari is fit to be the CM. These type of things are being done to shatter his prestige. It is unfortunate he faced this after giving his life to the party,” Gehlot said on Thursday.
Several party workers, however, think that the yatra will prove a damp squib.
“This won’t get him anywhere. Kataria ji was also against Vasundhara ji. But he later fell in line and was rewarded with the post of home minister. But it seems Tiwari ji has lost out on all opportunities for a patch-up,” says a party source.
“Probably because he was the most vocal in opposing Raje before central leaders including Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Kaptan Singh Solanki etc in 2013,” he added.
Home minister Gulab Chand Kataria, once a Raje critic, had backed down after attempting a similar anti-corruption yatra in 2012, leading to Raje threatening to quit the BJP.
The central leadership had to intervene and Kataria had to call off his yatra. Raje’s writ had prevailed.
But that was 2012, and the assembly polls were just a year ahead.
Tiwari’s yatra on the other hand, announced at a time when the Raje government has barely completed two years, doesn’t seem to pose an immediate threat to Raje.
Besides, the Sanganer MLA has pegged his yatra as a tribute to Jan Sangh ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay, which means that on the surface, the state party leadership won’t be able to persuade him to call it off.
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