A day after being denied ticket to contest from his home constituency of Barmer, veteran leader Jaswant Singh decried the BJP’s move to open its gates for turncoats and rued that the party was being “encroached” on by “fake” leaders.
The BJP, on its part, said Singh’s innings was not over and his services will be utilised “appropriately”. “Jaswant Singh is a senior leader and we respect him. His dignity cannot be measured in terms of a ticket,” BJP president Rajnath Singh told reporters on Saturday. He dismissed as “hypothetical question” when asked whether punitive action would be taken against Jaswant if he entered the fray as an independent candidate.
However, Jaswant Singh, the sitting MP from Darjeeling, was in no mood to be assuaged. “The party has done this to me twice now and there is no chance of accepting any alternative proposal,” he said.
The party’s first-generation leader left Delhi for Rajasthan to vent his anger in front of his followers but did not announce whether he will contest as an independent candidate. While party sources said that Singh is worried about the future of his son and MLA Manvendra, he told reporters that he will interact with his supporters and announce his decision on Monday. Singh’s followers said he will quit the party.
Singh also attacked, though indirectly, his “arch rival” Col Sonaram Chaudhary, who was given the ticket for Barmer after being inducted into the party at the insistence of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. “We have to differentiate between the ‘real’ and the ‘fake’ BJP. One has to reflect upon the principles for which the party stood and the direction in which it is being led now,” he said.
Jaswant told his supporters to introspect on who has “encroached and what are their gains,” which was read as a veiled critique of the party leadership. He also questioned the direction in which the party was going.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said she was “pained” at the denial of ticket to Singh. “It was a decision of the party... Such rare decisions (“Asaadharan nirnay”) are not taken without any reason. There must be some reason as that ticket was not decided by the (BJP) Central Election Committee. It was decided later,” she said.