Wary of Swabhiman rally, Rajasthan BJP revokes expulsion of two Rajput leaders
The revocation of expulsion is being seen as an attempt to counter the influence of rebel MLA Manvendra Singh, son of former Union minister Jaswant Singh.Updated: Sep 04, 2018 08:29 IST
With three months to go for elections, Rajasthan BJP has revoked the expulsion of two prominent Rajput leaders in Barmer district. The move is being seen as an attempt to counter the influence of rebel MLA Manvendra Singh, son of former Union minister Jaswant Singh.
Manvendra is holding the ‘Swabhiman rally’ on September 22 in Pachpadra, Barmer. Sources said that the BJP is wary of the event as Manvendra is also expected to rake up the issue of delay in implementation of Barmer refinery project coming up at Pachpadra.
Both the leaders – Swaroop Singh Rathore, a former state BJP secretary and Girdhar Singh Kotra, former block president of Sheo – were in the Jaswant Singh camp and were expelled for six years from the party in 2014 for anti-party activities. The two leaders had campaigned extensively for Jaswant Singh during 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Manvendra, who has had strained relations with the party ever since his father Jaswant Singh was denied a Lok Sabha ticket from Barmer-Jaisalmer in 2014, is expected to formally part ways with the BJP and join another party. The announcement is expected at the Swabhiman rally on September 22, sources said.
Manvendra is keeping his cards close to his chest and refused to comment while the Congress leaders too are tightlipped about the possibility of him joining the party.
State Congress spokesperson Archana Sharma said, “I don’t have any information about Manvendra Singh joining the Congress, but the BJP has treated Jaswant Singh’s family shabbily and so his resentment is understandable.”
State Panchayati Raj minister Rajendra Rathore, who is a Rajput, has played a pivotal role in bringing the two leaders back to the party. Rathore said that any rally by Manvendra will be seen as an act of indiscipline and no BJP worker will be part of the rally.
Barmer BJP district president Jalam Singh Rawlot said with the party revoking expulsion of two leaders, all the prominent Rajput leaders of the region are back in the party. “Rajputs in Barmer are with the BJP, and I am confident that no BJP worker will attend the Swabhiman rally,” he said while denying any link between the party’s move to revoke expulsion and the Swabhiman rally.
While Manvendra has not been active in BJP, he is yet to be formally expelled and his name continues to figure in the list of BJP MLAs in the state legislative assembly.
Former Union minister Jaswant Singh was expelled from the BJP in March 2014 after he was denied Lok Sabha ticket and decided to contest from Barmer-Jaisalmer as an independent candidate. Jaswant Singh has had strained relations with chief minister Vasundhara Raje and a section of the Rajput community had turned against Raje after he was denied the ticket.
At that time, Jaswant Singh had got support from Rajput, Kalvi, Rajpurohit, Raberi and minority communities in the area. He was subsequently defeated by a narrow margin by BJP candidate Col Sonaram Choudhary, who benefitted from the Modi wave. Chaudhary, who was formerly in the Congress, had joined BJP after being promised the ticket.
The wheel has now turned full circle with Manvendar Singh planning to leave the BJP and is vying for a Congress ticket to fight Lok Sabha elections from Barmer-Jaisalmer seat.