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Rajasthan unit of BJP on Thursday, Nov 22, expelled 11 rebel leaders, including four ministers in Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s cabinet, from the primary membership of the party for six years for refusing to withdraw their nominations in favour of party’s official candidates for upcoming assembly elections.

The BJP also appointed its MLA Gyandev Ahuja, who had filed nomination as an independent after being denied a ticket by the party, as state vice president. Ahuja has taken back his nomination.

A press release issued by the party on Thursday stated that 11 rebels have been dropped from the party’s primary membership for six years. These were Surendra Goyal, Lakshminarayan Dave, Radheshyam Ganganagar, Hemsingh Bhadana, Rajkumar Rinava, Rameshwar Bhati, Kuldeep Dhankad, Deendayal Kumavat, Kishanram Nai, Dhansingh Rawat and Anita Katara.

State party president Madan Lal Saini issued the order for expulsions of these 11 leaders last night after the last day for withdrawal of nominations.

The expelled leaders include public health engineering department minister Surendra Goyal, general administration department minister Hemsingh Bhadana, devasthan minister Rajkumar Rinwa and junior panchayati raj and rural development minister Dhan Singh Rawat. The four were denied tickets by the BJP and they filed nominations as Independent candidates.

The other leaders who faced the axe are Laxmi Narayan Dave from Marwar Junction, Radhyeshyam Ganganagar from Sriganganagar, Rameshwar Bhati from Sujangarh, Kuldeep Dhankad from Viratnagar, DD Kumawat from Phulera, Kisnaram Nai from Sridungargarh and Anita Katara from Dungarpur.

The BJP had managed to persuade some of its MLAs to withdraw their candidature – Bhawani Singh Rajawat, Gyandev Ahuja and Anita Singh. Rajawat met party national vice-president and MP Om Mathur while Ahuja met national president Amit Shah on Wednesday and yielded. Ahuja who was contesting from Sanganer was made party vice-president.

Prachi Dixit, who had filed her nomination from Kota, and Champa Lal Gedar from Bikaner also withdrew their names. Gedar met Shah in Bikaner on Wednesday and then agreed to withdraw his name.

The Vasundhara Raje government is seen to be facing a massive anti-incumbency sentiment in Rajasthan this time round, and the BJP has dropped several sitting MLAs to minimise the effect.

After the announcement of the candidate list, many BJP leaders shifted camps. While many legislators resigned from the party after being dropped, several of them also filed nominations from their current seats for the December 7 polls to compete with the BJP’s official nominees.

While some filed nomination as independent candidates, some others joined the Congress.

Last Wednesday, former BJP legislator Habibur Rahaman Ashrafi Lamba joined the Congress party. Rahman had tendered his resignation on November 12 to state BJP chief Madan Lal Saini after he found his name was missing from the party’s first list.

Manvendra Singh, rebel BJP lawmaker-turned-Congress candidate, is contesting against Raje from the Jhalarapathan assembly seat. Relations between Singh and the BJP leadership had soured considerably after his father, former Union Minister Jaswant Singh, was denied a ticket for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

However, the BJP is not the only party with a rebel problem. The Congress is reported to have over 40 rebel leaders, including four former ministers, who could possibly spoil its chances of electoral victory.

Among the Congress rebels, two former ministers, Mahadev Singh Khandela and Babulal Nagar, remain in the fray. In addition to them, six former MLAs, CS Baid from Taranagar, Sanyam Lodha from Sirohi, Nathram Sinodia from Kishangarh, CL Premi from Keshoraipatan, Bhimraj Bhati from Pali and Haji Abdul Kayum from Masuda, are also contesting as rebels.

Rajasthan will go to polls on December 7. The results will be declared on December 11.

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