Chhattisgarh BJP legislators revolt against chief minister


Raipur : As many as 22 legislators of Chhattisgarh's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have stepped up their offensive against Chief Minister Raman Singh with seven of them leaving for New Delhi to brief the party leadership about their grievances.

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The rebel campaign is being led by senior tribal leader Nankiram Kanwar, who was dropped from the council of ministers on July 2 by Raman Singh in a cabinet reshuffle.

Sources said the BJP government that came to power in Dec 2003 is now facing its most serious threat so far with the number of dissident legislators shooting up to 22 out of the party's 53 members in the 90-member legislative assembly.

"Seven members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) left for Delhi Thursday to brief party leader Lal Krishna Advani about the deepening crisis in Chhattisgarh. We will inform Advani that at least 22 MLAs want the chief minister to be replaced," a BJP MLA who is in Delhi on the protest mission, told IANS by phone Friday.

Those MLAs who reached Delhi Thursday are Nankiram Kanwar, deputy speaker in the state assembly Badridhar Diwan, Devjibhai Patel, Balmukund Devangan, Poonam Chandrakar, Preetam Diwan and Shivpratap Singh.

The seven MLAs who belong to three different groups but all opposed to Raman Singh, were received at New Delhi airport by the member of parliament (MP) from Surguja and former state president Nandkumar Sai, who is a well known tribal face of BJP but facing political exile for past couple of years.

"It's too much, we are not going to tolerate humiliation any more by the party government. We will brief Advani on how the `Raman-Rajnath' pair has been trying to suppress the voice of dedicated party leaders in Chhattisgarh," a dissident MLA told IANS Friday.

Another tribal rebel MLA said, "We will press for a change of guard in the state but we are yet to pick up an alternative to replace Singh".