Jaswant wages lone battle to salvage Marwari pride

Jaswant wages lone battle to salvage Marwari pride

Jaswant wages lone battle to salvage Marwari pride

In this Pakistan-bordering district of the desert state, rebel BJP veteran Jaswant Singh is waging a lone battle to salvage ''Marwari pride'', which took a beating due to what he claims was the humiliating manner in which the saffron party denied him an opportunity to contest from his family constituency.

The Rajput leader has been invoking people’s sentiments during his campaign trail in this land of royals, to make what is perhaps his last political fight emotive, hovering around the grave “insult” and “injustice” done to him by a party he grew up with, and devoid of debate on Modi’s development politics or UPA’s “lost decade”.

And he holds BJP president Rajnath Singh and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje responsible for he parting ways with the outfit.

A Union minister during the NDA regime, he is now pitched against Congress turncoat Col Sonaram Chaudhary, inducted into the BJP by Raje, in a contest that also features sitting Congress MP Harish Chaudhary.

The parliamentary constituency, which houses eight Assembly segments, has 16 lakh voters, most of whom are from the sizeable Muslim, Rajput and Jat communities.

At a public rally in Jaisalmer's Hanuman circle of, Singh told the gathering he was fighting on the “strength of Barmer people” to restore Marwari pride. “I’m not fighting elections.

It’s the people of Barmer. I’m merely a candidate. What the BJP did was injustice,” he told the crowd—a mix of Muslim and Hindus.

Singh later poured his heart out to Deccan Herald. “There are two principle issues, I think. First, it is a sense of outrage bordering on a feeling of insult at the manner in which I was prevented from contesting from my home constituency. Too much of a conspiracy. The other is burning fury that a Congress turncoat, who has been on contesting against the BJP all his life, was nominated as the party candidate. This really added insult to the injury of the whole community here. It has remained a sentimental issue,” he said.

Political observers believe Singh is in direct contest with rival Jat leader Chaudhary, who had lost the last Assembly polls from Baytu, one of the eight constituencies under the Barmer-Jaisalmer parliamentary seat.  Singh's son Manvendra is a BJP MLA from Sheo, also under the Barmer-Jaisalmer seat, and is facing the party's heat due to his father's move.

But, the real battle is between Singh and his protégé-turned-critic Raje, which Chaudhary accepted in an interaction. He said Muslims who have been voting for the Singh family for rail connectivity to Pakistan, and help over visas, will play a crucial role in deciding the outcome of polling on April 17.

The result will also establish the supremacy of either singh or Raje.