Advani refuses to meet Raje supporters

Advani refuses to meet Raje supporters

Over 50 MLAs, loyal to Raje, who has been asked to step down from the post by the party and RSS, met BJP president Rajnath Singh, who is believed to have stuck to his stand that she should make way for someone else following the party's defeat in the assembly elections in the state last year and the Lok Sabha polls this year.

Later, they went to the residence of Advani, in whose camp Raje is believed to be, for an audience. They staged a sit-in as he refused to meet them. Rajnath and Advani were in a meeting at the time of the sit-in.

Sources close to Advani said there was no meeting scheduled between him and the MLAs.

Meanwhile, the rebel MLAs maintained they had the right to decide who their leader should be.

"We, 62 MLAs from Rajasthan, have come to tell the Central leadership that our leader is and will continue to be Vasundhara Raje. We want to warn them that without her the people of Rajasthan and the party unit will be nothing. We do not want a change in the leadership," BJP chief whip in Rajasthan assembly, Rajendra Singh Rathore, said.

Raje is likely to be summoned to Delhi, sources said.

Rathore and party leader Kiran Maheshwari submitted a memorandum on their demand to Advani's office.

The MLAs backing Raje are hopeful that Advani and her other supporters will bail her out.
However, party President Rajnath Singh and RSS leaders are opposed to her continuance as the Leader of Opposition in the assembly.

They have been seeking her removal on the ground that she had failed to deliver and keep the party cadre together during the assembly and Lok Sabha polls. The number of BJP MPs from Rajasthan dropped to four from 23 while in the assembly, the party strength plummeted to 78 from 120.

Party insiders feel the decision to remove Raje may not be favourable for Advani, who is reportedly under pressure to choose a successor.

Raje's supporters claim to have 62 of the 78 BJP MLAs on their side. In the 200-member assembly, Congress has a strength of 97 MLAs.