Lull before storm at Shekhawat home?January 9th, 2009 - 4:07 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Jan 9 (IANS) A day after hectic political activities, there was an uneasy silence Friday morning at the residence of former vice president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat who has created a flutter in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with his tacit challenge to the party’s prime minister hopeful L.K. Advani. The BJP leader has been saying for the last three days that he was going to contest the general elections and is the seniormost BJP leader. “Age-wise, I am senior most. I am 86, (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee is 83 and Advani is 80,” he says. He also said Vajpayee should contest the elections.
Shekhawat hogged the headlines through Thursday and retired in the night amid spirited sloganeering outside his home by supporters. “Shekhawatji aap sangharsh karo, hum tumhare saath hain (We are all with you in your fight),” they shouted.
Friday morning, there was silence. “Lull before the storm,” said a visitor from the leader’s home state Rajasthan.
“This is not going to end easily. It’s good he came out and asserted his position,” the other visitor accompanying him said.
Carrying a bouquet of an assortment of flowers, they were waiting to meet the octogenarian leader at his 31, Aurangzeb Road residence.
“He is the senior most leader; it was necessary to say what he did. Mark my words, this is not a two-three day affair,” he told the other person in Marwari language.
The BJP, meanwhile, was making desperate attempts to rein in Shekhawat. He had a late evening meeting with senior leader Jaswant Singh where party president Rajnath Singh arrived later.
He was not willing to relent despite attempts to convince him not to precipitate a crisis in the party, sources claimed
Besides saying he will contest the elections, the former vice president also said he did not “bother” about Rajnath Singh.
“Rajnath was not even born when I, Vajpayee and Advani were working for the BJP,” he asserted.
The party is unable to explain Shekhawat’s defiance. “I won’t be able to comment,” said BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. “We have already said what we have to… he is the party’s senior leader and well-wisher,” party spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.
Shekhawat has also been making serious allegations of corruption, saying tickets for the Dec 4 Rajasthan assembly elections were sold.
He even wrote a letter to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to inquire into charges of corruption to the tune of Rs.32,000 crore by the outgoing Vasundhara Raje government of BJP.