New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership got into the fire fighting mode on Monday evening to defuse the crisis plaguing the party in Rajasthan. BJP leaders spoke to former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje, who has been defying the party's summons and has got 60 MLAs supporting her to tender their resignation from the state Assembly, and tried to mollify her.
The party leadership suggested that she play down the resignation of her supporters and also extended an olive branch by saying that "she is the leader in the state".
Raje has been demanding that the central leadership settles the leadership issue in her favour by making it apparent to the state unit.
The peace proposal was offered after Raje's close confidante Kiran Maheshwari met top BJP leaders in New Delhi on Monday. Maheshwari met Lok Sabha MP Sushma Swaraj and Rajya Sabha MP Arun Jaitley. She apprised the leaders of the situation in Rajasthan and demanded that the former chief minister be made the state in charge.
The feud in the Rajasthan BJP intensified on Monday with Raje defying party leadership summons to come to Delhi and 60 MLAs loyal to her submitting their resignations. The BJP national leadership had summoned Raje after she threatened to quit over senior leader Gulabchand Kataria's proposed yatra.
Out of 79 MLAs that the BJP has in the 200-member Assembly, 60 offered to resign in support of Raje. Reports said that more legislators would come in support of her.
At a meeting of the core committee, Raje had threatened to leave the BJP objecting to Kataria's proposed 'Lok Jagran Yatra' in the state apparently to project himself as the party's chief ministerial face. Kataria later decided to call off his yatra.
Supporters of Raje also demanded that the party declare her as the chief ministerial candidate for the Assembly polls due in 2013.
Terming the opposition to his proposed 'yatra' as "unfortunate", Kataria, who was Rajasthan Home Minister in the previous government headed by Raje, said that some of the party leaders deliberately made his campaign an ego issue though it was actually aimed at benefiting the party.
Kataria rubbished allegations that it was aimed at projecting himself as the party's face in the state and claimed that his 28-day-long campaign was to highlight the failure of Congress at both the Centre and the state level in giving pro-people policies, programmes and good governance.