The Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday expelled its Rajasthan MLA Shobharani Kushwah for cross-voting in favour of a Congress candidate in the elections to four Rajya Sabha seats from the State held recently.
Ms. Kushwah, elected from Dholpur constituency in 2018, had turned defiant after her suspension from the party last week.
In a letter to Ms. Kushwah, BJP central disciplinary committee’s member secretary Om Pathak said a separate action would be initiated against her for showing indiscipline while being the party’s MLA. “You have publicly levelled unrestrained and unverified allegations against the party leadership instead of giving a clarification,” the letter stated.
The BJP had fielded former Minister Ghanshyam Tiwari as its official candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections and extended support to media baron Subhash Chandra, who contested as an Independent. Ms. Kushwah, who was asked to vote for Mr. Chandra, ended up cross-voting for Pramod Tiwari of the Congress, causing embarrassment to both Mr. Chandra and the BJP.
Mr. Pathak said in the letter that since Ms. Kushwah’s act was in violation of the BJP’s Constitution, she would be relieved of all other roles in the organisation, apart from her expulsion from the party. Ms. Kushwah, who had said that she was guided by her “voice of conscience”, later adopted a defiant tone and said it was the BJP which had approached her with the offer to field her as the party candidate in the 2017 by-election necessitated by the disqualification of her husband B.L. Kushwah as a legislator.
Mr. Kushwah, who was a Bahujan Samaj Party MLA from Dholpur, was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2016 in a case of murder of a student leader. Fielded by the BJP as its candidate, Ms. Kushwah won the seat in the bypoll and was re-elected in the 2018 Assembly election.
Though her cross-voting was linked in the political circles here to her husband’s imprisonment, Ms. Kushwah issued a statement to the media vociferously targeting the BJP. The MLA said the BJP had approached her with some promises when it felt that the Kushwah community not just in Dholpur but in entire Rajasthan could slip out of its hands. However, none of the promises was fulfilled by the BJP, she charged.
Ms. Kushwah also took exception to the party’s directive to vote for Ms. Chandra, who, she said, was spreading rumours and was openly discussing cross-voting, riding on “money power”, despite not having the sufficient numbers. The ruling Congress won three of the four seats with the defeat of Mr. Chandra.
The repercussions of Ms. Kushwah’s act of defiance were felt in the BJP’s State unit, with some sections in the party questioning her ostensible proximity to former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who is fighting a battle of supremacy with the rival camp led by State president Satish Poonia. Dholpur is the home turf of Ms. Raje, as she was married to Hemant Singh of the town’s erstwhile ruling family.
With the BJP facing the charge that it could not keep its MLAs united and disciplined after losing power in the 2018 election, the Congress leaders have targeted the party’s State unit for the “rift and squabble” among its leaders. Among others, Congress MLA from Tonk and former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot said a party, which could not play the role of a responsible Opposition, could not be blessed by the people to become the ruling party.