Expelled BJP leader Jaswant Singh has lodged a complaint with the Election Commission, asking whether helicopter expenses incurred by BJP leaders visiting Barmer constituency are being billed to local BJP candidate Col Sonaram Choudhary.
This comes in the wake of senior party leaders, including Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje and BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi, making frequent trips in and around the constituency to ensure the party’s victory there.
Singh, who is contesting as an Independent candidate from Barmer, said, “When Rahul Gandhi visited Tonk, the helicopter expenses were included in the local candidate’s expenditure limit. So if Raje is frequently visiting Barmer and Jaisalmer and Modi is slated to visit Barmer, why should it not be included in the BJP candidate’s expenditure cap too?”
“Barmer is not a tourist spot. But there is no saying what political communities will do these days,” he added.
Modi held a rally at Ratkudiya in Pali constituency, close to Barmer, on Monday and will be back on Saturday for a rally in Pachpadra. Raje, too, has been spending a lot of time in the constituency.
Responding to rumours of AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal coming to Barmer to support Singh’s candidature, he told The Indian Express, “I don’t think I need support from traditional or non-traditional political elements.” Kejriwal recently retweeted a few of Jaswant’s tweets, seen as a crucial political gesture. “I am not a part of the tritteratti and never pursued what the elegant phrase implies. Kejriwal has not been attached with me.”
Taking a dig at Modi’s upcoming rally and rumours of Kejriwal’s visit, he said, “My advice to both these gentlemen is to guard against over exposure to the sun and a possibility of debilitating sun stroke.”
Reacting to the inclusion of the Ram Mandir issue in the BJP manifesto, Singh said, “I have not read it. It is not my favourite literature of the day but yes, I have heard of it. I could not convince myself that the Ram Mandir issue is one we need to treat politically. It is essentially a matter of faith and belief… For me, the divinity of Ram is not enhanced by an additional temple nor diminished by one temple less. I have observed that a political soufflé can rise only once.”
Jaswant will release his own manifesto on Thursday, one that he a calls a “candidate’s agenda”. “It will not have an elaboration of the country’s nuclear policies and such other esoteric themes but entirely local issues,” he said.