ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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TRADE UNIONS-Rise of the BMS

crisis of survival. Efforts are on to give the activities of the rebels the trappings of a Waghela-type rebellion. Punja Lal Garasia, minister of state for irrigation, announced his resignation when chief minister Shekhawat had left for the US for heart surgery. In Gujarat too, the trouble had started to brew when the then chief minister Keshubhai Patel was away in the US. The rebels in Rajasthan have raised the banner of revolt alleging that Shekhawat has neglected the welfare of the backward sections. This is the ostensible reason put forward by both the resigning MLAs. Clearly, an attempt is being made to project Shekhawat as favouring the rajputs and hence to rally MLAs against him on OBC-dalit card. Moreover, Bhanwarlal Sharma, who got elected on the JD ticket in the recent assembly by-election for Sardarshahar seat, is projecting himself as a Waghela-in-the- making. Like Waghela, he claims to have been expelled from the BJP for 'indiscipline' and like Waghelais thirsting for'vengeance'. There are other important elements in the Rajasthan developments. Neither of the two MLAs who have resigned were BJP MLAs in the proper sense. The BJP which had won 93 seats in 200-seat assembly formed the government to begin with by including four Independent and three Janata Dal MLAs. Punja Lal as well as the other two MLAs, Gopichand Gujar and Rewat Ram Panwar, who have rebelled are former Janata Dal members, while Shashi Dutt, the other MLA to resign, is one of the eight Independent MLAs included in the ministry. Though the rebels are claiming a sizeable number of BJP MLAs on their side, as yet no BJP MLA has openly aligned with the rebels. Secondly, the charge that Shekhawat has neglected the cause of the backward classes is too transparently concocted. In fact, the Shekhawat government's record in maintaining law and order and in implementing poverty alleviation and drinking water supply schemes has been generally regarded as above average by the standards of past governments in the state. The BJP, on the other hand, is leaving no stone unturned to counter the rebels' efforts. A three-day state-level conference beginning from January 17 to sort out intra-party differences is being organised. After the Waghela episode, the BJP's central leadership is on the defensive and is keen to avoid another debacle in Rajasthan. At the recent BJP-RSS conclave in Virar, though party president L K Advani spoke of growing organisational indiscipline, he admitted there can be legitimate grievances of the dissidents and assured the latter that they will not be victimised on grounds of 'indiscipline'. The conciliatory attitude adopted by the party leadership and the undiminished stature of Shekhawat in the state might help the party tide over the crisis this time.

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