Tension in party over next Rajasthan BJP president

The week following Ashok Parnami's stepping down as the BJP chief in Rajasthan, there has been tension between the central and state leaderships over the choice of the next BJP president.

While the Sangh and the national unit of the BJP are in favour of Rajput candidate Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, sources said the Raje camp is unhappy with the choice, as he is seen as being close to the central leadership and not on the same page as Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.

Also, as the Rajasthan BJP is presently divided along caste lines, the Raje camp believes that choosing a Rajput leader such as Shekhawat will alienate the Jats, given that there is traditional rivalry between the two communities. Jats constitute about 12% of the population.

The Raje camp is rooting for her long-time aide and cabinet minister Srichand Kriplani. Moreover the names of Brahmin candidates, such as Social Justice Minister Arun Chaturvedi, are also doing the rounds.

Parnami, who was seen as a loyalist of the Rajasthan chief minister, had to step down after the BJP suffered crushing defeats in the Ajmer and Alwar Lok Sabha bypolls and the Mandalgarh Assembly bypoll.

On Thursday, Raje visited New Delhi over the appointment of the new BJP chief and sources say the visit aims at lobbying for her preferred candidate.

Sources reveal that some ministers and MLAs had camped in New Delhi seeking a meeting with the top leadership to discuss the candidature of Shekhawat, a Union minister, who is believed to be the front-runner for the post.

According to party insiders, BJP national president Amit Shah had held a closed-door meeting with party general secretary (organisation) Ram Lal and state in-charge Avinash Rai Kalla on the selection on Wednesday but that nothing concrete had emerged.

Sources sad Shah is busy with the Karnataka elections and has not made his mind up.

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Tension in party over next Rajasthan BJP president

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