A day after former Union minister Jaswant Singh personally attacked BJP president Rajnath Singh and effectively quit the party, Rajnath said he had apologised to Jaswant for the decision to deny him a ticket to contest from Barmer constituency in Rajasthan.
Rajnath said the decision, taken due to some considerations, was ‘painful’ for not only to him but other leaders of the party as well. In an interview to Times Now, Rajnath said, “I had said sorry to him on the party decision to deny him the ticket but he did not tell anything on phone”. Later, the sitting MP from Darjeeling decided to contest the polls from Barmer as an independent.
The party chief also said that irrespective of a personal attack on him, he still respects Jaswant and the party believes that his talent and experience would be utilised, leaving a window for a settlement in the future. The party has officially not expelled 76-year-old Jaswant.
Defending the decision, Rajnath, in a similar way to Sushma Swaraj, expressed grief over the Jaswant fiasco, but contradicted Swaraj on who took actually took the decision within the BJP. Rajnath insisted it was taken by the central election committee. He repeated that the entire Rajasthan candidates list was discussed in poll panel meetings. But refused to divulge details on the grounds that he is the party’s president.
He recalled an incident involving himself, when at the age of 26, he was given a ticket to contest from Varanasi, but at the last moment Fakir Ali Ahmed replaced him. Though his supporters asked him to fight as independent, he decided not to go against party decision, he said.
The BJP is not going to take any action against Jaswant’s son Manvendra, who is an MLA and therefore caught between the friction between his father and the party. Senior leader Arun Jaitley spoke at length with him over phone on Monday to assure him about his place in the party.
Rajnath also denied that there is cold war between Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, since the latter of late has indirectly contradicted his colleague’s tweets and reactions on internal party issues such as the induction of tainted BSR Congress founder B Sriramulu and the Jaswant episode.
Rajnath clarified that he had permitted Swaraj to publicly clarify her stand on the move to draft Sriramulu into the party because her association with the Reddy brothers from Bellary has previously hurt her reputation. It was a “one off exception” since Swaraj had approached me before tweeting, said Rajnath.