‘I quit BJP to preserve the self-respect of my people’

‘I quit BJP to preserve the self-respect of my people’

Veteran BJP leader and former Union minister Jaswant Singh’s son Manvendra Singh quit the BJP on Saturday, during the Swabhiman rally (fight for self-respect and dignity) at Pachpadra in the Barmer district of Rajasthan.

Singh, the MLA from Sheo, spoke to DH’s Tabeenah Anjum on his future plans, his reasons for quitting the saffron party and the strained relationship between his party and BJP after his father was denied a ticket in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

You said “Kamal ka phool, hamari bhool” during the rally and quit BJP? How do you feel?

I quit the BJP to safeguard the self-respect of my people who have been suffering for the past four years. The BJP was a family to me. I am friends with Vajpayeeji’s granddaughter and Advaniji’s daughter. Those relations remain unaffected.

I am sure that even my father, who is unwell now, would have appreciated this step. And my mother, who is looking after my father in New Delhi, is happy with my move.

If you had a strained relationship with the BJP, what made you wait for four and a half years to quit?

I personally felt that parting ways with the BJP should not be just my decision. I wanted people from all communities to come and decide for me. In fact, that is why I went from door-to-door taking feedback from everyone. During the rally, people were shouting “Kamal Ka phool, hamari bhool”. I simply echoed their feelings.

People in your rally also shouted slogans in favour of the Congress. Does that mean you will join the Congress, with the elections just two months away?

I haven’t taken a call on that and again I shall leave the decision to the crowd. Yes, the Assembly elections are coming up in Rajasthan, but it’s the Lok Sabha elections that I am keeping in mind.

To become an MLA was never my choice — it was forced upon me.

There are rumours that your wife will fight the Assembly elections...

As of now, nothing has been decided.

You became an MLA for the first time in 2013 and has been a part of the Vasundhara Raje government for the more than four years. How has the experience been?

I am a public representative and I have worked for the development of Barmer, which includes my constituency, Sheo. And I continue to do that. These last four years, I haven’t been talking much to many people in the party, including Chief Minister Raje. Our relationship went sour in 2014, and she has not tried to reach out to me since. Which is why when she recently travelled in Barmer I did not accompany her.

A lot has changed in Rajasthan in the past five years, which include a rise in hate crimes, attempts at saffronisation and bringing up of bills by unfair means. Whom do you hold responsible?

The sociology of governance is responsible for that. The structure and functioning of the chief minister’s office are responsible for turning things worse.

In the upcoming Assembly elections, whom do you see coming to power in Rajasthan and why?

There is a strong anti-BJP wave in Rajasthan. One can see how the chief minister’s Gaurav yatra is facing protests all over the state. Employees, people and even her party members are against her. There are high chances of the Congress coming back to power.

Among Congress leaders, who do you think is more popular in Rajasthan: former chief minister Ashok Gehlot or Congress state chief Sachin Pilot?

I know Pilot as a fellow parliamentarian and he is a friend. He has been working hard for the Congress in Rajasthan and there is no doubt about it. As far as Ashok Gehlot is concerned, his popularity and stature stand across the regions.

Can you name three reasons responsible for the anti-BJP wave in Rajasthan?

A culture of governance, corruption and price hike in the country.

Are there any chances of you going back to the BJP?


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