Jaipur, May 6 - As the feud in Rajasthan BJP intensified, over 43 MLAs loyal to sulking leader Vasundhara Raje today offered to resign, but the party played down the crisis and her threat to quit the organisation.
A day after Raje threatened to leave the BJP over state leader Gulabchand Kataria's proposed political campaign, her aide claimed that 43 MLAs, including 2 independents, submitted their resignation to Raje expressing confidence in her leadership, with some even demanding that she be declared the chief ministerial candidate for assembly polls due next year.
BJP has a strength of 79 in the 200-member Rajasthan assembly.
At the meeting of core committee yesterday, Raje, who is Leader of Opposition in Rajasthan Assembly, had objected to Kataria's plan to take out "Lok Jagran Yatra" which was seen by a section in BJP as a move to project himself as the party's chief ministerial face. Following this, Kataria had cancelled his programme.
But the BJP today denied that there was a rift in the state unit and asserted that there was "no question of Raje quitting".
"You can't call difference of opinion as a rift. In a democratic party, people do have different perceptions on a given situation. Vasundhara ji is a very respected and senior leader of the party and there is nothing like a rift," party leader Balbir Punj said.
"BJP is one and it will unitedly face the Congress in Rajasthan. There is no question of Vasundharaji quitting," he said.
Raje, who had yesterday said that she would resign from the party's membership if Kataria did not withdraw his decision to take out the yatra, today said the issue was an "internal matter".
"It is our party's internal matter and we will resolve it," Raje told reporters.
Along with the legislators, office bearers and members of the BJP Yuva Morcha also handed over their resignation, Raje's aide said.
The lawmakers are now demanding that Raje be declared as "undisputed" chief ministerial candidate for next assembly polls, he said.
The party leaders began to arrive at Raje's official residence in civil lines since morning and shouted slogans in her support.
"The MLAs want undisputed leadership of Raje," legislator Bhawani Singh Rajawat told reporters outside Raje's residence.
Besides Rajawat, Kiran Maheshwari, Rajpal Singh Shekhawat, Mohan Lal Gupta, Om Birla, Radheyshyam Ganganagar, Kalyan Singh, Prabhu Saini, Abdul Sageer Khan are among the MLAs who submitted their resignation to Raje, he said.
Kisan Morcha vice president Subhash Mehriya said that the the central leadership should announce Raje's name as the chief ministerial candidate in the assembly polls due next year.
Terming the opposition to his proposed 'yatra' as "unfortunate", Kataria, who was Rajasthan Home Minister in the previous government headed by Raje, today said that some of the party leaders deliberately made his campaign an "ego" issue though it was actually aimed at benefiting the party.
Kataria rubbished allegations that it was aimed at projecting himself as the party's face in the state and claimed that his 28-day-long campaign was to highlight the "failure" of Congress at both centre and state level in giving pro-people policies, programmes and good governance.
"It is very unfortunate that a campaign which was aimed at strengthening party in Mewar region, which plays key role in elections, was objected without any sound logic. It was not my personal decision, it was planned with consultation the party's state leadership," Kataria told PTI.