JAIPUR: A major controversy has erupted over the withdrawal of nomination by a BJP rebel who had filed his nomination as an independent candidate for the Sahada by-elections in Rajasthan.
Ladulal Pitalia withdrew his nomination for the Sahara Assembly seat in Bhilwara district but has alleged that the BJP was "pressuring" him.
Pitalia has also written a letter to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and sought protection for his family.
In his letter, Ladulal has alleged that he is being "pressurised" about his business interests in Karnataka where the BJP is in government. Ladu Lal Pitalia has a major garments business in Karnataka and he has accused the BJP government in Karnataka of threatening and putting pressure on his family.
In addition, one of Pitalia’s purported audio clips has also gone viral on social media where he talks about the threats and pressures he and his family are facing to force him to withdraw his nomination. In this chat with a party worker, Pitalia even talks about the severe pressure that he is allegedly facing from the BJP High Command.
Pitalia was earlier with the BJP but had decided to contest the upcoming assembly by-poll in Sahada as an independent candidate. BJP sources say Pitalia’s name was among the panel for the Sahada constituency but he was dropped due to caste calculations.
Eventually, an angry Pitalia filed his nomination as an independent candidate on March 30 and he was seen as a major spoiler for the official BJP candidate Ratanlal Jat.
His withdrawal is a big relief for the BJP as Pitalia's rebellion after he was denied the party ticket had cost the party this seat in the 2018 Assembly elections.
As an independent, Pitalia had polled over thirty thousand votes in 2018, which led to the BJP candidate being defeated by a margin of around 7,000 votes by Congress leader Kailash Chandra Trivedi whose death has now led to the by-poll on this seat.
His sudden withdrawal has led to a sharp verbal war between the BJP and Congress. Trying to encash on the issue, state Congress chief Govind Singh Dotasra remarked, “the BJP puts on a lot of drama about morality but look at how shamefully they have threatened and pressured Pitalia to withdraw his candidature. They were really scared of losing the election and the BJP seems to have made it a duty to break all boundaries of morality in Indian politics.”
Though the BJP is relieved by his withdrawal, the party insists that there was no pressure on Pitalia and claims he withdrew voluntarily.
State BJP president Satish Poonia said, “Ladulal Pitalia has withdrawn his nomination unconditionally and our party welcomes his decision. We will respect Pitalia and give him a suitable responsibility. With his withdrawal, the victory of our party is now certain.”
Other party leaders also claim that both Pitalia's letter to CM Gehlot and the viral audio clip are fake. BJP secretary in the state, Shravan Singh Bagdi remarked, “...The letter to the CM and the audio clip are just a conspiracy hatched by the Congress.”