Politics

Restrictions on Judiciary, Legislature and Media Under BJP, Says Rajasthan MLA Who Quit

In his resignation letter to Amit Shah, Ghanshyam Tiwary said there is an undeclared Emergency in the country.

Jaipur: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Rajasthan and a staunch critic of the Vasundhara Raje government, Ghanshyam Tiwari, submitted his resignation yesterday to party chief Amit Shah after being associated with the Sangh for 66 years.

In the 2013 assembly elections, Tiwari had won with the highest margin in the state, defeating his Congress rival by over 65,350 votes.

In his letter to Shah, the five-time legislator said that he had brought large-scale corruption in the state by the Raje dispensation to the BJP chief’s attention time and again.

“Constantly brought to your attention the conversion of Rajasthan BJP into a private shop of one person but you never did anything. On the contrary, when you came to power, you disrespected and tried to defame the loyal people.”

He also insinuated that the present conditions in the nation and the state is that of an ‘undeclared Emergency’, and said that an “undeclared Emergency at present is more dangerous than the declared Emergency”.

Last year, the party’s national disciplinary committee had issued a show cause notice to Tiwari for allegedly indulging in ‘anti-party activities’.

With the announcement of his resignation, he proclaimed that his son’s party, Bharat Vahini Party, registered by the Election Commission of India on June 13, will field candidates on all 200 assembly seats of the state in the upcoming assembly elections.

Tiwari spoke to The Wire about what’s ailing the BJP government in Rajasthan and the prospects of his newly formed party in the assembly elections due later this year.

You were associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for 66 years and served five terms in the Rajasthan assembly. What are the reasons behind your sudden departure? Was it because of your criticisms of the Raje government?

There are two major reasons behind leaving the BJP: one is the dictatorship, lawlessness and corruption in the party since the last four years and the other is the condition of an ‘undeclared’ Emergency in the state and the nation.

Of course, being critical of the Raje government was the foremost reason behind my resignation. They tried a lot to break me by filling false cases against me, but it’s over now and it’s not even important.

When you say that there is an ‘undeclared Emergency’ in the nation as well as Rajasthan, what do you mean exactly?

I vividly remember the Emergency, when I went to jail and was beaten up. The present state of affairs is like that. There is no denial that in the present situation, there exists an indirect restriction on the judiciary, legislative and the media, which is even more dangerous than it were during the Emergency.

Needless to say that the Rajasthan government brought out the draconian law, Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment Bill) 2017 that put restrictions on a magistrate order to probe allegations against officials, without government permission. Also, [there is] the Rajasthan Ministers Salaries (Amendment Bill) 2017 under which a former chief minister has been given the status of a cabinet minster for life.

Does your resignation from the BJP also mean the termination of your association with the RSS?

My association with the RSS would not be affected by my departure from the party, but there is hardly any meaning of being associated with the RSS. The party doesn’t care who is in the RSS or who is not. There is no membership as such, it is just for the sake of the name.

Three times, the Bill giving reservation to poor communities who have worked for the BJP and the Sangh for generations – Brahman, Rajput, Kayastha and Vaishya – were passed in the assembly but they never notified it. This is the extent of their sensitivity towards the people who work for the party for their entire lives.

On many occasions, you have iterated your wish to include in your party the independent MLA from Khinvsar, Hanuman Beniwal, known to represent the farmers, poor and Dalits, as well as other party workers from the Congress and BJP. What will be the agenda of your party?

Yes, anyone who is doing good work for their constituency is welcome to be a part of Bharat Vahini Party. Here, we are open to the 7.5 crore people of Rajasthan – that also includes party workers from the Congress and BJP who want to work for the betterment of Rajasthan. But there is no room for any communal and casteist leader. Bharat Vahini Party is not just a political party, it is a movement.

Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje. Credit: PTI

Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje. Credit: PTI

What do you think are the key factors in the state around which the upcoming assembly elections will revolve and how does your party plan to tackle them?

The Congress and BJP have ruled the state for a decade now, but even now Rajasthan is a BIMARU state (an acronym for Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, referring to their poor socio-economic conditions). People are desperately looking for a change so that their conditions improve.

There are several other issues like water deficiency, unemployment, reservation and corruption that are degrading the state. Our strategy will not be to just point out the issues, we will come up with the ways to improve the existing situation so that the state can benefit, which is the ultimate objective.

It is believed that Vasundhara Raje government wanted a ‘Yes ma’am’ cabinet and so ministers are not able to stand up for their communities. Is this true?

When I was asked how many Brahman and Rajput MLAs are there in the Rajasthan assembly, I said none, because whenever any pressing issue relating to these communities came up, they never spoke. The MLAs of these communities represent Vasundhara Raje and not their community, and the condition has become such that if these MLAs go out to ask for votes, their communities will not welcome them.

The government in Rajasthan swaps between the Congress and BJP every assembly election. Does a third front government stand any chance?

Our party is not a one-day affair, we have been working under the banner of ‘Deen Dayal Vahini’ for the past four years. It is now established in every district and all 200 constituencies. In Rajasthan’s political history, the third front has always been effective. Be it the Ram Raj, Jan Sangh, Swatantra Party, Janta Dal or the Lok Dal, the third front has always made its mark in the state.

It was just because of Bhairon Singh Shekhawat that the BJP came into existence in Rajasthan. Now, there is no leader of Shekhawat’s stature remaining in the party and those who were with him have been ignored.

A sizeable chunk of people in Rajasthan are dissatisfied with the BJP but don’t want to vote for Congress either, and that will pave way for the third front to form the new government.

Shruti Jain is a freelance journalist.

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