M A I N   N E W S

Veteran leader starts Rajasthan tour
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, January 9
Defying age and BJP leadership, former Vice-President Bhairaon Singh Shekhawat today started his statewide tour from Jodhpur carrying on with his determination to make a mark in the state and national politics.

A day after BJP national president Rajnath Singh met him in Delhi in his bid to settle bad blood between him and some party leaders, especially former Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje, Shekhawat started his statewide tour from Jodhpur, where he held a public meeting.

He reiterated he would contest poll to end corruption, provided the public wanted him and if his health permitted him to do so.

Shekhawat was scheduled to visit Jain Muni temple. A considerable number of BJP party workers, city residents attended his public meeting.

Earlier, talking to The Tribune, Shekhawat shared his determination to start his second innings in politics. Shekhawat minces no words in saying that BJP tickets for contesting the Rajasthan Assembly polls were sold.

“I want the party to hold an inquiry into this kind of corruption. I have to become active again to ensure only non-corrupt leaders are voted to power,” he said. He did not take names but his target was clearly Vasundhra Raje, who was holding the strings to select candidates. Incidentally, Shekhawat had initiated Raje into politics and campaigned for her in previous elections.

His allegations have given fresh impetus to the highly embarrassing controversy for the BJP. Earlier, rebel BJP leader Dr Kirori Lal Meena had also alleged and had submitted a VCD containing proof of the sale of tickets to the party leadership. Another rebel BJP leader Vishwendra Singh had also alleged that the tickets were sold.

“My tirade is against corruption in all spheres of life,” said the 87-year-old leader.

“I have held some public meetings in Kota and Jhunjhunu and everywhere I have got thick piles of corruption complaints against the administration and politicians,” he said.

Shekhawat’s move has left political analysts to think on various lines. Some believe that he hopes he can be the prime ministerial candidate in case of a hung assembly. Others think he is just using pressure tactics to make his presence felt.

His residence in Jaipur remains deserted most of the time and it is only for past few days that journalists have started flocking to his house.

He was upset with the BJP leadership in the state. His recommended persons did not get tickets. Also, he had to campaign on his own for his son-in-law and BJP candidate Narpat Singh Rajvi from the Vidhyadhar nagar seat.

“I had to campaign for him when I learnt some party leaders were trying their best for his defeat,” was the candid assertion of the leader.



BJP banks on Vajpayee to soothe Shekhawat
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 9
Projecting a brave front though in the face of troubles unleashed by Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, BJP sources today admitted the veteran leader would have to be taken on board. The party is now looking towards patron Atal Behari Vajpayee to “diffuse the crisis” created by Shekhawat’s insistence on contesting the Lok Sabha polls and his repeated accusations of corruption in the BJP.

Yesterday, Shekhawat had said he wanted to save the party and had therefore decided to come out in the open against the former BJP government in Rajasthan. He had also said the issue of leadership in the party could be decided only after the LS polls have been won. For LK Advani, BJP's prime ministerial face, Shekhawat’s statements mean trouble, as was evident from the way the party tried to placate the angry former leader.

Initial attempts to assuage Shekhawat, however, failed yesterday when Shekhawat emerged aggressive as ever from an hour long-meeting with BJP president Rajnath Singh and leader Jaswant Singh at latter’s residence. “I want the party to be cleansed and corruption cases against Raje to be probed,” Shekhawat said after the meeting, reaffirming his decision to fight elections.



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