Senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh, denied ticket from the Barmer parliamentary constituency in Rajasthan, is now evaluating the sentiments of people on home turf and will decide on his association with the party accordingly.
Jaswant, who was a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, wanted to contest his “last election” from hometown before hanging his boots. His supporters were preparing for this for a long time, but the BJP’s decision not to fulfil the veteran leader’s wish has jolted them.
It has led to a sympathy wave in Singh’s support not only in Barmer and Jaisalmer, but also in Jodhpur and other parts of the region. “He is such a senior leader and denying him a party ticket is really unfortunate,” Nirmal Bhandari, a political expert said.
When Singh arrived in Jodhpur on Saturday afternoon, hundreds of his supporters from the district and Barmer region stood for him shouting slogans against chief minister Vasundhra Raje and Colonel (Retired) Sona Ram Choudhary, who has been given the party ticket sidelining the veteran leader. “We are shocked the party has failed to tender respect to a frontline senior leader like Jaswant Singh,” Madan Singh Amla, a former student leader said, adding that it will affect the party badly not only in the Marwar region, but in the entire state.
Many BJP leaders have sympathy for Singh, but they are not forthcoming on the issue. Rajya Sabha MP Narayan Pancharia said denying the ticket is injustice to a leader like Jaswant, but the party decision is respectful.
Singh, however, kept his cards closed to his chest on rumours that he is going to contest the election as an independent candidate.
Meanwhile, many BJP leaders, including former MLA Narayan Ram Beda, Mahendra Jhabak and former Jodhpur mayor Rajendra Kumar Gehlot met him at his farmhouse and discussed the situation. “I am consulting my supporters and knowing their views on the situation,” Jaswant said.
He broke down while saying, “Party is divided into two segments, and the real BJP is behind, encroached by some elements who never respected the party ideology.” He attacked BJP leadership, saying there was need to differentiate between “real” and “fake” BJP as whatever was happening in the party now was not in line with its ideology.