Ashok Gehlot appoints Vasundhara Raje loyalist as mayor, creates divide in Rajasthan BJP


Express News Service

JAIPUR: In an apparent attempt to exploit the divisions in the BJP ranks and to nip any mass protest against the suspension of Mayor of Jaipur Municipal Corporation in the bud, the Ashok Gehlot government on Monday night appointed a loyalist of former chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s to the post.

The decision took the wind out of BJP’s sails, which had called for a statewide agitation on Tuesday after Mayor Saumya Gurjar and three councilors were suspended on Monday.

The Gehlot government appointed BJP councillor Sheel Dhabhai as the officiating mayor, who took charge on Tuesday. Dhabai was earlier the chairman of the Finance Committee. Gurjar and three councilors had allegedly scuffled with the JMC (Greater) Commissioner Yagya Mitra Singh on Monday. A judicial inquiry has been ordered into the incident.

While the BJP had launched a series of protests on Monday, party leaders including state president Satish Poonia, Vasundhra Raje, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Arjun Ram Meghwal had called the move illegal and unconstitutional. However, Sheel Dhabhai said: 

“I have nothing to say at this at the moment. I have to focus on the responsibility given to me.”

A known Raje loyalist, Dhabhai has served as mayor in the past, too. She was in the race to get the post, but the BJP leadership had favoured Saumya Gurjar. 

“Suspending the mayor and the three councillors shows the state government is acting out of vengeance. Today, the BJP protested the decision across the state,” Poonia had said, alleging Gehlot converted an “ordinary altercation” between officers and public representatives into a criminal case.

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