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Power play over dinner parties before BJP picks next state chief

January 20, 2020 06:35 AM



Two months after Manohar Lal Khattar began his second term at the helm of the government by stitching up an alliance with Dushyant Chautala’s Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), differences between the CM and his cabinet colleague Anil Vij aren’t BJP’s only concern.

The party’s leaders in south Haryana, upset about the north’s predominance in the government, have begun gathering support for the state unit president’s post. The Haryana organisational elections of BJP are due and will be held soon after the party elects J P Nadda its national president. Sources in the party sad Ahirwal (south) leaders are unhappy that some of the key ministerial berths — like home, forest, power, education, health and parliamentary affairs — were bagged by north Haryana leaders, and are making a play for the top organisational chair that is currently occupied by Subhash Barala, a leader from Tohana in west Haryana.

A party insider said leaders in the Ahirwal belt were smarting because of their lack of negotiating power in party affairs. “To balance power and represent people from this belt, the party should consider giving a strong position to leaders from the southern region of the state in the organisation. It will keep the structure democratically strong and minimise discontent,” said the BJP member.

But within this north-south power tussle is another that is confined to Ahirwal, between the camps of five-time Gurgaon MP and Union minister Rao Inderjit Singh and former Haryana cabinet minister Rao Narbir Singh. A former Badshapur MLA, Narbir was dropped by BJP from the polls this time, and can make a point to his party if he can show his clout in the region. “Narbir was banking on his proximity to the CM. But he became a scapegoat during the lobbying for tickets as a section in the party was wary of his closeness to Khattar,” said a senior BJP functionary.

Two dinners held over the past few weeks at the homes of two BJP functionaries in Gurgaon where Narbir was present have set political circles abuzz. Seven senior BJP members attended the first, but it was the presence of former Lok Sabha MP Sudha Yadav, seen as his rival, at the last gathering that suggested a reorientation within the factions, party members said. Narbir and Yadav have said it was only a “friendly dinner” and nothing more.

“Rao Narbir is reaching out to Rao Inderjit’s loyalists and they are also responding. Everyone is weighing their options. There are strong chances that Rao Narbir will be able to increase his influence. Sudha Yadav and Rao Narbir never got along before,” said a BJP insider, adding Narbir was almost 12 years younger to Inderjit (69) and would end up being in active politics for longer.

BJP spokesperson Jawahar Yadav said, “We are a strong unit and everyone is committed to the party and its unity. All our processes are democratic and all party members accept and respect it. These rumours and misinformation are peddled by the opposition and other groups. There’s nothing wrong if leaders take out some time to connect and bond.”

An Inderjit loyalist said the party brass was aware of the developments: “These are desperate attempts. Rao Narbir didn’t perform and that’s why his ticket was cancelled. Now he wants to make a comeback. Senior leaders are keeping a close watch on all this.”

While Narbir didn’t respond to the requests for a comment, his close aides didn’t acknowledge any such dinner parties. Barala, however, said these were just “friendly get-togethers” and meant nothing more. “I haven’t come across any developments about factionalism. People are misinterpreting the get-togethers. It’s common for leaders to meet each other and bond,” he said

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