Leader of Opposition in the Rajasthan Assembly, Gulab Chand Kataria was appointed as the governor of Assam on Sunday.
The 79-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader was first elected as an MLA in 1977, then in 1980. He has won all assembly elections since 1993, and has served as a member of the House for eight times.
“I got informed by the media and the development is unexpected. However, two days ago Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called to inquire about my well-being, but there was no discussion about becoming the governor,” Kataria said. “I didn’t ask for any post. The PM and party high command thought of me and I will work hard with honesty and dedication,” he added.
Kataria was a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker, and then he joined the Jansangh. He was prominent among the early leaders of the Jansangh-BJP.
He is the third leader from Rajasthan who has got appointed to the Assam Raj Bhavan. Earlier, Congress leaders Harideo Joshi and Shiv Charan Mathur were appointed as the 15th and 22nd governors of the state. All three are from Mewar region of Rajasthan.
BJP state president Satish Poonia congratulating Kataria in a tweet. Former chief minister Vasundhara Raje said Kataria’s energetic and effective personality and political experience will write a new chapter in the progress of Assam.
Kataria’s deputy in the House, Rajendra Rathore said, “The responsibility to him (Kataria) has increased the respect of workers and the state.”
Many leaders including Raje and Rathore are now in the race for the leader of Opposition post.
“Who gets the responsibility of LoP will also show the future course of direction of the state BJP. If the high command makes a new face as the leader of Opposition, then it will be considered as a sign for the next CM face as well,” said a senior party leader, who did not wish to be named.
He said Kataria has a strong hold on southern Rajasthan, along with Udaipur, and he has been influencing about 25 seats in districts such as Banswara, Dungarpur, Pratapgarh and Rajsamand.
He added that the effect of Kataria’s influence was such that despite losing power in 2018, the BJP won 15 out of 28 seats in Udaipur division and 6 out of 8 in Udaipur district.
Political analyst Manish Godha said Kataria’s appointment is an indication that the party is in mood to keep away the veterans or senior leaders from the CM’s race. He added that it also indicates that the party will stick to the formula of not giving tickets to leaders above 75 years of age.