THE BJP high command dropped Sheo (Barmer) MLA Manvendra Singh from the national executive following complaints of his involvement in the campaign for his father and expelled BJP leader Jaswant Singh. Apart from ending the lingering discomfiture between father and son, this also turned Manvendra into a “martyr” for the locals in Barmer, who have so far been viewing Jaswant as a “victim” of ego clashes in the BJP.
Jaswant, who is contesting his last election from his home turf Barmer, had his entire family campaigning for him. But Manvendra stayed away from publicly supporting his father, with the BJP threatening to take disciplinary action against him.
Before the BJP’s decision was announced, Manvendra, earlier in the day, admitted he was torn between his loyalty to the party and his father. “I do feel torn. But I have my commitment to the people here. I have to survive here, so I am attending only social meetings as part of my routine,” he said at a condolence meeting in Baytu. At the meeting, he refused to talk about his father’s candidature and said, “May the best candidate win.”
He only came to know about the party’s decision from the media. “I have not been informed about the decision. I have heard of it only through the media. I am deeply saddened. I have been only attending social functions and I will continue to do so,” Manvendra told The Indian Express. Asked whether he felt relieved as this had put an end to the conflict, he said, “I am more saddened than relieved. I was born in this party (BJP).”
Given the sympathy wave in favour of Jaswant in the constituency, the BJP decision may help him further. Locals who have been supporting him feel he was “wronged” by the saffron party.
During his campaign, Jaswant, despite being in the same town, has consciously maintained a distance from Manvendra and has been staying in a hotel instead of living in his son’s house. On his son not openly supporting him so far, Jaswant said, “He has chosen his duty to the people of the land above his filial duties. I will never hold anything against him for had I been in his place, I would have done the same. We are a closely knit family and Manvendra does consult me on issues.”
Jaswant also came out in defence of his son after his land was allegedly forcibly taken over by the Army, and accused the BJP-led state government of arbitrary behaviour “reminiscent of the Emergency when rampant acquisition of land was being done by collectors”.