The former Speaker of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly said he was a victim of the factionalism within the BJP.
Kailash Meghwal, 89, is a man with a grievance. On the eve of the Rajasthan Assembly election, he was suspended from the primary membership of the BJP for raising allegations of corruption against Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal. He believes that gutbaazi (factionalism) has ruined the party and the central leadership is not serious about dealing with corruption in its ranks. A six-time MLA with a long association with the Jana Sangh, Meghwal was Cabinet Minister in Bhairon Singh Shekhawat’s government (1994-1998) and Union Minister of State in Atal Behari Vajpayee’s government (2003-2004). Excerpts from his interview to Frontline:
Why did you raise the issue of corruption against the Union Minister? The BJP leadership did not find any merit in it.
The BJP leadership is not telling the truth. They have encouraged factionalism and put up people against Vasundhara Raje. I had apprised the State-in-charge, Arun Singh, and national president J.P. Nadda of this. On the corruption charge, it is not just my individual grouse. The Anti Corruption Bureau had initiated an inquiry against the Minister. It was all in the public domain. I merely held a press conference to highlight it.
But why raise these issues just before the election?
I began my political life in 1977. I am a six-time MLA, three-time MP and a three-time Cabinet Minister. I defeated Buta Singh with a huge margin from Jalore and hold the record for the largest margins. But I was victimised due to factionalism. I was ignored and humiliated. I couldn’t hold back anymore and held a press conference, laying bare my own political record and the issues involved. There is a section of the Congress that also votes for me. Despite the anti-incumbency in the last election, I won with the largest margin of more than 50,000 votes.
Can you tell us more about the factionalism in Rajasthan?
Factionalism in the BJP in Rajasthan began in the run-up to the 2018 elections. The central leadership interfered in the State unit’s affairs. There were indications that the State unit chief would be changed and that the Chief Ministerial candidate might also be changed. That is one of the reasons the party performed badly and could not win. It is very clear that Vasundharaji is being sidelined.
Why was the CM candidate not declared this time? It has never happened in the history of the Jana Sangh. I have been suspended from the party for indiscipline for raising questions. I have suffered extreme injustice. There was no inquiry. They found my reply to their show cause notice unsatisfactory. I gave proof of my charges, of bribes being taken for the ticket.
As long as the Bharatiya Jana Sangh was there, the BJP was a cadre-based party. The adulteration began with the opposition to the Emergency when all parties came together. Corruption has become a part and parcel of politics and political life. The only ideology parties have is how to wrest power.
The way the country is being run is indicative of democratic dictatorship. There should be a restriction on the number of terms a Prime Minister can contest. We must opt for the American pattern limiting the number of times the top executive can contest.
Do you think the texture of politics has changed?
I am concerned about voter polarisation on communal lines during elections. The amount of bloodshed in the name of religion has not happened even in the path to the formation of nations.
Has anyone approached you from the Congress?
I have had very good relations with people in all parties. There is a lot of confusion in both parties right now. Let the ticket distribution start. Things will unfold.