Veteran BJP leader Jaswant Singh announced here today that he will file his nomination papers from Barmer as an Independent on Monday, asserting that he is “not a piece of furniture” to be “adjusted” after polls.
Jaswant Singh, who received overwhelming support at his native village Jasol in Barmer on Sunday, however, said he was not resigning from the party yet over denial of a ticket, and would first consult his colleagues and aides in Barmer.
Jaswant Singh’s son Manvendra, who is a BJP MLA, skipped an emergency meeting in Jaipur called by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje of all party legislators from Barmer and Jaisalmer districts comprising the Barmer parliamentary constituency. He also sought one-month leave on medical grounds.
Raje sought feedback on the situation in the constituency at the meeting. Sources said the legislators pledged loyalty to the party over their individual allegiance to Jaswant Singh. “We will continue to support the party and try to hold talks with Jaswant Singhji and convince him,” said MLA Chhotu Singh soon after the meeting.
Sources said though several MLAs might overtly support the party apprehending action against them, they might work in favour of Jaswant Singh behind the scenes. Several Rajput legislators are known to be particularly close to the veteran leader and his family. But with son Manvendra yet to come out openly in support of his father, they are biding their time.
Indicating that the BJP was in no mood to go too far to accommodate Jaswant Singh, senior party leader Arun Jaitley said in an article posted on his website that leaders have to learn to take “no” for an answer.
A day after Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj voiced her displeasure over denial of the Lok Sabha ticket to Jaswant Singh, Jaitley suggested that Jaswant Singh should fall in line like a disciplined worker of the party.
“At times, the party may flood leaders with privileges and positions. On other occasions, the leader may have to take ‘no’ as an answer to his desires,” Jaitley said in his article. “What does a politician do when after a successful political career the party is unable to accommodate him once? That is when his discipline and political loyalty are to be tested. He must accept the decision with a smile… Restraint and silence are always a preferred option. Over-reaction may prove a transient storm in a tea cup.”
Responding to a query in Amritsar about Jaswant Singh asking his supporters to differentiate between the “real and fake” BJP, Jaitley said, “There is only one BJP and there is no need to make any distinction.”
BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu also talked about the posts the party had given to Jaswant Singh in the past. “The party has always respected him. The party sent him to Rajya Sabha. The party made him finance minister. The party made him external affairs minister. So there is no question of sidelining him,” Naidu said in Chennai.
Jaswant Singh had given the party a 48-hour deadline to take a final call on the issue but till Sunday afternoon no one from the central leadership had approached him, he said. “The party leaders have my contact numbers and can reach me directly. But I have not heard from anyone yet.”
Jaswant drove from his residence in Jodhpur to Jasol followed by a lengthy procession. He was greeted by large groups of followers at several points and trailed till his house. In Barmer, announcements were made on a loudspeaker that went around the town that Jaswant would file his nomination on Monday at around 10.30 am.
Training his guns on BJP president Rajnath Singh, who said the 76-year-old leader’s services would be utilised appropriately, Jaswant Singh said, “I am not a piece of furniture who could be adjusted somewhere. The choice of words is indicative of the mentality and I reject this thought and mentality. You cannot adjust one’s principles. It is humiliating… They have assumed that they will form government and adjust me somewhere. I do not need that.”
Sources close to the family indicated that the Barmer ticket was denied on the insistence of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Raje, both of whom are not believed to be on good terms with Jaswant Singh. During Raje’s previous term as CM, Jaswant Singh’s wife had filed an FIR against her when certain party workers had taken out a procession deifying Raje.