On Sunday, Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria had tasked himself with motivating booth level workers of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state’s Churu district. During his impassioned speech, he addressed the two-term former prime minister, Manmohan Singh, as “s**a”, and continued to praise the incumbent PM.
Apart from the word, the tone of Kataria’s address for the former PM was itself derogatory, and he couldn’t praise Narendra Modi enough; US President Barack Obama, Kataria said while thumping his chest, himself went to receive Modi at the airport while an ordinary, “aira gaira nathu gaira” minister would earlier receive Singh, as the crowd cheered.
In state capital Jaipur, however, not many were surprised. In the state assembly, the septuagenarian is known to often get worked up, just stopping short of making such comments. But on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Tiwari
perhaps felt comfortable among booth level party workers.
As the video made it to newsmen, Tiwari was quick to apologise. He told The Indian Express that he “realises” that the word was “inappropriate,” and cited his addresses in state assembly, saying that he has a few slips when he is in the “flow”; he also issued an apology on Twitter.
Hailing from Udaipur, Kataria is known for his elocution, thanks to his RSS background. He is also known to be the most honest among the Vasundhara Raje cabinet members, for which party leaders again credit his RSS background. At public hearings for party workers too, he gets agitated if he comes across any ‘unjustified’ requests and is known as a ‘stern’ administrator.
Though Raje strongly holds on to the reins in the state, Kataria represents RSS in the state: he is currently the most powerful among the RSS leaders in the state – following him are Social Justice Minister Arun Chaturvedi and Education minister Vasudev Devnani – and things were not always calm between him and CM Raje.
In early 2012, he had announced a 28-day Lok Jagran Yatra in the Mewar tribal belt, where he holds considerable influence. Being the Home Minister in Raje’s previous tenure between 2003-08, Kataria now wanted to assert himself as party’s Chief Ministerial candidate ahead of the 2013 elections.
However, Raje threatened to quit the party, then in opposition, and around three dozen MLAs extended their support to her, until the central leadership intervened and Kataria called off the yatra. A staunch party loyalist, Kataria then went on to extend support to Raje’s ‘Suraj Sankalp Yatra’ in 2013, which covered all 33 districts and included over 200 public meetings.
Father to five daughters, Kataria has degrees of M.A. (Geography), B.Ed. and LL.B. He also holds the portfolio of Justice, Home Guard and Civil Defense, Prison, and Disaster Management and Relief.