The BJP legislature party meet saw a war of words between senior leaders, once again highlighting that the rift within the party refuses to die down despite attempts by the party leadership to bring unity.
Former assembly speaker Kailash Meghwal and leader of opposition in the assembly Gulab Chand Kataria had a heated argument during the legislature party meet that was held in the assembly premises on Wednesday.
Former chief minister Vasundhara Raje and her supporting MLAs were also present in the meeting but all chose to remain mute spectators to the Meghwal, who is considered close to Raje, broached the issue of partisanship in allotting time to party MLAs to speak in the house.
Around 20 MLAs from the Raje camp wrote to state party president Satish Poonia two days back, alleging bias in allocation of time to MLAs to raise issues of public interest in the house. They urged Poonia to instruct Kataria and deputy leader of opposition Rajendra Rathore to allot equal time to all party MLAs.
The matter also came up during Rajasthan incharge Arun Singh’s visit to Jaipur on Tuesday for the party’s core committee meeting.
Singh downplayed the matter, saying that those who have grievances should talk within the party rather than writing the letter.
He refuted talk of factionalism within the party, saying there is only one group and that is the BJP.
However on Wednesday, Meghwal once again raked up the issue. He targeted Kataria and said that allotting time to speak on the floor of the house was the job of the party chief whip and questioned why Kataria had not appointed a whip till now.
Meghwal said in the absence of a party chief whip, there was mismanagement on the floor of the house. When some MLAs wrote to the party president questioning the mismanagement, it was taken as an anti-party activity. “How is raising a point of order in the party an anti-party activity? And how are those who wrote the letter pro-Raje and anti-Kataria?” asked Meghwal.
Meghwal also pointed out that Kataria is holding two posts, that of leader of opposition and head of the public accounts committee in the assembly and said he should resign from one post.
An upset Kataria retorted that he was not smitten by any post.
“I don’t have love for any post. If you have a problem with me, tell the person who has given me this responsibility and I will resign at once,” he said.
On the adjournment motions, Kataria said of the 20 MLAs who have complained, seven MLAs had asked to move the motion. Of these, the adjournment motion of three was accepted while the others were declined because they had not prepared well.
Kataria said speaking in the house was a big responsibility for which a member has to work hard and be well-prepared. He said it was not a jaunt in the park where members come and sit in the house for half an hour and then walk out.
Rathore said the complaint of the 20 MLAs would be addressed and they would have to take the responsibility to speak on the budget debate in the house.
Chief minister Ashok Gehlot presented the budget for 2021-22 in the house on Wednesday and from Thursday, the debate on the budget will begin and will continue till March 3. The CM will give the reply on the budget on March 4 in the house.