July 18, 2021 3:59:24 am
Months of discord between the factions of former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and incumbent BJP state president Satish Poonia claimed its first victim Saturday with Poonia expelling former minister Dr Rohitashav Kumar Sharma, who is close to Raje, for six years.
In the suspension order, Poonia said that allegations of “breach of discipline” were “proved” against Sharma, following which he is being expelled from the party for six years.
Sharma was the minister for Transport, Waqf Board, as well as Sports under Bhairon Singh Shekhawat’s third tenure as CM (1993-98). In 2016, Raje had appointed him as the chairman of an inter-state committee to address water sharing related issues, with a cabinet minister status.
Talking to The Indian Express, Sharma termed the expulsion “purely dictatorship” and said that he is “saddened.” He claimed that the expulsion by Poonia was to exact “revenge.”
“I am not against the party, never was, and nor will ever be. BJP is my mother. Their pain is that I am a Vasundhara ji supporter. And they used the pretext that I spoke against Union ministers,” he said.
Party’s chief spokesperson Ramlal Sharma said, “For the past several days, he was constantly making public statements against the party. He was served a notice and continued giving statements even after submitting his reply.”
“Vasundhara ji is a natural leader. People in Rajasthan like her and she took big decisions in the interest of people. She established BJP’s rule in Rajasthan – she ruled twice and got 120 seats once and 163 the second time (out of 200 Assembly seats). So you have a natural leader and for some reason you are denying her, the people will not tolerate this,” he said.
“BJP has a possibility of ruling (the state again) only if Vasundhara ji comes. Rest other leaders are limited to their region, to Delhi, to their hutments – they don’t have knowledge of Rajasthan’s geography. I had said the truth yet they expelled me,” he said.
Sharma had been served a notice by BJP’s state General Secretary Bhajan Lal Sharma on June 24, asking him to clarify his statements within 15 days. The notice had quoted Sharma’s statements: “Opposition in Rajasthan is in the same condition as Congress in the Centre.” He had also said that “BJP leaders are doing politics against Congress while sitting in their offices, and don’t go to villages” and that “our ministers in the Centre have been reduced to their region. There is no one to take care of Rajasthan.”
And in what was perhaps a direct attack at Poonia, he had said “current BJP leaders are only indulging in netagiri, there is no state level leader who has knowledge about all of Rajasthan; hence, state BJP has suffered losses.”
Sharma said he had made the comments in a virtual party meeting. “I had told them that in my area Alwar, no senior party leader visited in two years during Covid, nor did any of our three Union ministers visit Alwar nor did the state president visit. The party workers battled it themselves – had the BJP leaders visited, the workers could have been heard. But no one heard us – this is what I had said,” Sharma said.
“It is said we are a party with a difference. And we are asked to say things within the party forum, and that’s what I did,” he said.
Gloves were off late in June when a letter written by Poonia more than two decades ago, resigning as the state chief of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) over not being given a ticket for elections, surfaced on social media. While the Poonia camp saw it as an attempt to undermine his authority, Sharma had said that, “when the person who himself has committed indiscipline, and crossed the heights of indiscipline, what advice can he give to others for discipline.”
On Saturday, Sharma said that he was not called by the party’s state leadership to resolve the issues and added that he will appeal against his expulsion to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president J P Nadda.
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