New Delhi: The feud in the Rajasthan BJP intensified on Monday with former chief minister Vasundhara 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.
Earlier, the party played down the crisis and tried to placate Vasundhara Raje. Senior leader LK Advani, BJP President Nitin Gadkari and Arun Jaitley spoke to Raje over phone to defuse the crisis.
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 will 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.
In Delhi, BJP's chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad tried to play down the crisis, saying Raje was a senior leader of the party in Rajasthan and things would be resolved internally. "She (Raje) has already announced that it is an internal matter of the party which is being resolved internally," he said.
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.
"It is very unfortunate that a campaign which was aimed at strengthening party in Mewar region, which plays key role in elections, was objected without any sound logic. It was not my personal decision, it was planned with consultation the party's state leadership," Kataria said.
(With additional inputs from PTI)