Meghwal vs Meghwal in Rajasthan BJP: No sign of the row ending

An embarrassed BJP has slapped a show-cause notice on former speaker and 5-term MLA Kailash Meghwal for calling Union law minister Arjun Ram Meghwal "corrupt no. 1"

Former MLA Kailash Chandra Meghwal (left) and Union law minister Arjun Ram Meghwal (photo: IANS)
Former MLA Kailash Chandra Meghwal (left) and Union law minister Arjun Ram Meghwal (photo: IANS)

Prakash Bhandari

Undeterred by the show cause notice by the BJP’s disciplinary committee, a defiant former speaker Kailash Meghwal says he stands by his statement: “I have gathered enough material on the corruption of the union minister and (shall) send them to the prime minister; I shall ask the prime minister to drop Arjun Meghwal from his cabinet,” he reiterated.

The BJP vs BJP drama playing out in public this week has embarrassed the Bharatiya Janata Party days before it launches a four-phase Pariwartan Yatra (Procession of Change) ahead of the assembly election in Rajasthan on 2 September.

The Union law minister has hit back at his party colleague, saying that the former speaker has lost his mind and that he had been instigated by chief minister Ashok Gehlot of the Indian National Congress.

The former speaker is known in the BJP as a Vasundhara Raje loyalist while Arjun Ram Meghwal and another Union minister, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, are seen as the front-runners for the BJP’s chief ministerial face. Meanwhile, the BJP has sidelined the former chief minister and Vasundhara Raje has been kept out of the committees and confabulations around the election preparedness. She was also conspicuously missing from the meeting addressed at Ganganagar by Union home minister Amit Shah.

Meanwhile, Kailash Meghwal asks, “Why is Arjun Meghwal uncomfortable on the corruption charges? If I am wrong, why doesn’t he file a deflation suit against me?” The former speaker added that the Union minister had resigned from the IAS and joined politics to escape corruption charges while in service.

What also seems to have irked the former speaker is that the Union minister is allegedly lobbying for a younger candidate from his constituency. “Yes, I am 89 years old and I am still active and serve the people. I am keen to contest the election. Who is Arjun Meghwal to decide who will contest from my constituency?” says the peeved senior Meghwal.

Even more damningly, the Union minister is said to be lobbying with the Congress to field Roshan Meghwal as the Congress candidate from the Shahpura (SC) seat, which is currently represented by the former speaker in the assembly.

The Union minister, however, has dismissed the charge and accused the former speaker and BJP MLA of publicly praising the present Congress speaker C.P. Joshi. He has also recalled that chief minister Ashok Gehlot had praised Raje and Kailash Meghwal in the past.

Gehlot had claimed at a public meeting in May that his government had escaped being toppled by the BJP because leaders like Raje and Kailash Meghwal opposed horse trading and buying off of MLAs.

Kailash Meghwal, who is a veteran and had been a minister in several BJP governments in the state—including the one headed by Bhairon Singh Shekhawat—is a tall Dalit leader.

Regardless, the BJP circles in the state are mortified at the public spat and are hoping to bury it, lest it impacts the party’s election prospects.

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