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HindustanTimes Wed,20 Aug 2014

‘Pakistan connection to decide Barmer winner’

Arvind Singh  JAIPUR, March 24, 2014
First Published: 16:26 IST(24/3/2014) | Last Updated: 16:31 IST(24/3/2014)

In his book, Call to Honour, former foreign minister Jaswant Singh writes about his grandfather’s hopes of a day when his grandson will “reach Delhi”, perhaps an euphemism for the prime minister’s chair.

But by denying him a ticket from Barmer, the BJP has virtually put Jaswant Singh on the sidelines despite all talks of utilising his services for other purposes.

Singh had hoped for BJP ticket on the basis of his support among the Rajput and Sindhi Muslim electorate, both of which have a Pakistan connection.

But in the ultimate analysis of Barmer, the Pakistan factor could still decide the ultimate winner in the constituency which goes to the polls on April 17.

Jaswant Singh is the sitting MP from Darjeeling in West Bengal.

Both the Congress and BJP have fielded Jat candidates. While the Congress has retained sitting MP Harish Chaudhary, the BJP has opted for former MP Col Sonaram Choudhury, a Congress turncoat who joined the saffron party last week.

“Three communities, the Sindhi-Muslims, Rajputs and Hindus who have m  igrated from Pakistan, will decide the winner,” Sangeeta Pranvendra, an election watcher said.

As foreign minister and also during the UPA regime through his rapport with foreign minister Salman Khurshid, Jaswant Singh had facilitated visits by people of these three communities to visit their relatives in Pakistan.

As a result, his popularity graph among them has swelled.

Political analysts said that both the Congress and BJP candidates will divide the Jat votes and whoever can sway the other three communities will win the polls.The expert also pointed out that though Jaswant Singh is threatening to contest the elections as independent he may prop up his protégé Murad Ali Mehar, who is a Sindhi Muslim.

The Rajputs in Barmer are not expected to vote for Jat candidates while the Muslim and migrant Hindus are also expected look for better options in Barmer.

The Sindhi Muslims generally vote as per the diktat of the head of the Peer-Pagaro shrine in Pakistan.

“Jaswant Singh may not close his doors to parliament through Rajya Sabha by fighting as independent and also jeopardise his son’s future in the BJP, said Bhavani Singh Deora, a political analyst said.

His son Manvendra Singh is an MLA from Sheo constituency.

He was also a  former MP from Barmer Lok Sabha. He lost the election in 2009 to Congress’ Harish Choudhary.

Singh had earlier contested from Jodhpur seat in 1989 against Ashok Gehlot and won. Later, he had contested thrice from Chittorgarh in 1991, 1996 and 1998.

Out of three elections, he won in 1991 and 1996. After that he was continuously elected to the Rajya Sabha.

The Barmer parliamentary constituency straddles both Barmer and Jaisalmer districts and includes nine assembly segments (seven in Barmer, two in Jaisalmer).


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