Former vice-president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat’s announcement that he would contest the Lok Sabha polls and the resultant row in the BJP got further impetus from BJP president Rajnath Singh today.
Singh came out strongly against Shekhawat’s plan and reiterated that LK Advani is the ‘undisputed’ candidate for the prime minister’s post in the next elections. Shekhawat, however, insisted that only he and not anyone in BJP has the right to decide his future plans.
Ruling out a BJP ticket for the former vice-president, Singh said on Wednesday, “Those who have enjoyed constitutional posts do not enter the electoral fray. This is not in our tradition.” He also tried to pre-empt any debate within the party on the issue of leadership, and said: “Advaniji is our undisputed candidate for the Prime Ministerial post and would continue to be so.”
In a quick retort, however, Shekhawat, who was in Jaipur, said “there is no bar on anyone contesting the elections. Didn’t C. Rajagopalachari become chief minister of Madras state after he relinquished the post of India’s Governor-General soon after Independence? Let the people decide.”
Shekhawat, the third of the BJP triumvirate after Vajpayee and Advani, made it clear that he is going to contest the polls. “I have not sought ticket from BJP — I am not even its member ever since I quit the party on becoming the Vice-President. I am not fighting the election for myself. I want to do something against corruption which is now a big menace”, he reasoned.
Shekhawat's announcement on Tuesday was seen as his bid to gear up for a post-poll scenario where he may be more acceptable than Advani for the top slot. Shekhawat also informed that he would go to Delhi and discuss his plans with former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
(With inputs from Jaipur)