BJP being encroached by outsiders: Jaswant Singh
Peeved at being denied a ticket from Rajasthan's Barmer Lok Sabha constituency, senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh Saturday said the party was being encroached by outsiders and there was need to distinguish between the "real" and the "fake" BJP.
Sources close to Jaswant Singh said he may resign from the Bharatiya Janata Party soon, even as party leaders made efforts to efforts to mollify him.
Sushma Swaraj said in Bhopal that she was personally hurt by the denial of ticket to Jaswant Singh.
Jaswant Singh had tears in his eyes as he spoke to a news channel over the treatment meted out to him due to encroachers in the party but he did not take any names.
"There is an encroachment on the BJP. It is overtaking the nature and character of the party. It's so unfortunate that the party has been completely taken over by outsiders, who never have had any respect of the party's ideology," Jaswant Singh told reporters in Jodhpur.
A former external affairs minister and one of the founders of the BJP, Jaswant Singh is considered close to party patriarch L. K. Advani and has worked closely with former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
"The BJP is now divided into two factions, one which is real and the other is fake. But unfortunately, the fake faction has the reins of the party now," Jaswant Singh said.
"One has to reflect upon the principles for which the party stood and the direction in which it is being led now," he added.
Some political observers saw Jaswant Singh's remarks as a veiled attack on his detractors within the party and decision-making process under party chief Rajnath Singh and prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
Jaswant Singh's outburst comes soon after a row over a seat for Advani.
The party patriarch made clear his preference for contesting from Bhopal rather than Gandhinagar, the seat decided for him by the party's central election committee.
Advani finally settled for Gandhinagar after persuasion by party leaders.
Sources close to Jaswant Singh said he may resign from the party soon and is likely to contest the Lok Sabha elections as an Independent candidate from Barmer.
Jaswant Singh is slated to visit Barmer by Monday.
"Everything will be decided only after I reach Barmer and have a discussion with my supporters," he said.
Rajnath Singh, however, said Jaswant Singh's stature could not be measured by a ticket.
"The BJP will use his capabilities fully," he said.
Sushma Swaraj said the decision to deny a ticket to Jaswant Singh was not ordinary and such decisions were not taken without a reason.
"There must have been a reason for it. But personally, I am hurt," she said.
Jaswant Singh represented Darjeeling in the outgoing 15th Lok Sabha. The BJP has fielded S.S. Ahluwalia from the seat now.
He wanted to contest from Barmer but the party fielded Col. Sonaram, who recently switched to the BJP from the Congress.
Following protests from BJP workers against the denial of ticket to Jaswant Singh, a meeting was held at the home of the former union minister's son Manvendra Singh Friday night.
Some party workers took out a protest rally and burnt effigies of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, holding her responsible for the denial of ticket to Jaswant Singh. They also shouted slogans against her.
"Col. Sonaram was with Congress for years. Now he has switched loyalties. Fielding him immediately after joining the BJP has sent a wrong message to the voters," said a local BJP leader.
If Jaswant Singh decides to contest, he may upset the local equation as there are at least 1.5 lakh Rajput voters in Barmer constituency, experts said.
"He has influence over voters from other castes also. So Jaswant Singh will definitely make life difficult for the BJP candidate," said political analyst Vijay Sharma.
Jaswant Singh hails from Jasol village in Barmer district.
(Posted on 23-03-2014)