Denied an election ticket in his home turf Barmer, senior BJP leader Jawant Singh on Saturday said the BJP was a divided house comprising an "original" part rooted in ideology and a "fake" one consisting of "encroachers and imposters".
BJP member Jaswant Singh speaks in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi. PTI/TV Grab
"But unfortunately, the fake part has the reins of party now," said Jaswant, 76, a day after the party fielded Congress defector Sonaram Chaudhary from Barmer.
Jaswant, born in Jasol village of Barmer, had made it known to the party that he wanted to contest from the seat.
Read: BJP denies LS ticket to Jaswant Singh from Barmer
But Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje, considered close to BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi, had persuaded the party that Chaudhary, a Jat, could win the party elections because Jats are the dominant community in Barmer. Jaswant is a Thakur.
BJP president Rajnath Singh sought to placate the disgruntled leader, saying "his dignity can't be measured in terms of election tickets and his services would be appropriately utilised".
But in an interview with HT, Jaswant said, "I can't trade with my honour. There can be no compromise with my honour, integrity and steadfastness, which I have endeavoured to since my days in army."
"The party has done this to me twice now and now there is no chance of accepting any alternative proposal," Jaswant told reporters in Barmer. A TV channel showed him breaking down while speaking about the row.
Refusing to dismiss the denial of mandate to him merely as "sidelining of the old guard", Jaswant said a growing chorus of leaders from states felt the party was favouring "outsiders, imports and imposters who are hurting its image and were far removed from its core ideology".
The three-time MP said his candidature was turned down even though all MLAs from Barmer-Jaisalmer constituency and other BJP office bearers had recommended his name.
Amid speculations that he would quit the party and contest as an independent candidate, Jaswant said he would make his decision public on March 24 after speaking to his supporters in Barmer and Jodhpur.
Jaswant's supporters had burned Raje's effigies and damaged party's hoardings over denial of the poll ticket to him.
A former external affairs minister, Jaswant had won Lok Sabha elections from Chittorgarh and Jodhpur in Rajasthan and currently represents Darjeeling in West Bengal.
Reportedly at the behest of BJP's ideological parent, the RSS, he was unceremoniously thrown out of the party in 2009 for writing a book praising Pakistan founder MA Jinnah. He returned a year later at the insistence of LK Advani.
The denial of ticket to Singh, considered close to Advani, came a day after the party patriarch was virtually forced to choose the Gandhinagar seat in Gujarat, against his wishes to contest from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh. Another senior leader, MM Joshi, had grudgingly vacated Varanasi seat for Modi.