New Delhi/Jodhpur, March 22: Annoyed at not being considered from Rajasthan’s Barmer constituency, senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh Saturday said the party was being encroached by outsiders.
Sources close to Jaswant Singh said he may resign from the Bharatiya Janata Party soon, even as party members continued efforts to pacify him. Without naming any one, Jaswant Singh, one of the founders of the BJP, said outsiders have encroached the party. (Read: BJP chief calls up Uddhav as ties head downhill)
“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,” he told reporters in Jodhpur.
“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,” he said.
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.
The former defence and external affairs minister is slated to visit Barmer in a couple of days and seek feedback from supporters before filing his nomination papers.
“Everything will be decided only after I reach Barmer and have a discussion with my supporters,” he said.
A close associate of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as well as senior BJP leader L.K. Advani, Jaswant Singh said the BJP needed to reflect on this.
BJP president Rajnath Singh, however, said Jaswant Singh’s stature could not be measured in a ticket.
“Jaswant Singh is a senior leader of the party. We respect him a lot. His stature cannot be measured in a ticket,” Rajnath Singh said.
“We will utilise his abilities in one form or the other in the party,” he said.
Asked if any disciplinary action will be taken against Jaswant Singh, the BJP chief said the question was “hypothetical”.
Jaswant Singh represented Darjeeling in the outgoing 15th Lok Sabha. The BJP ticket for the constituency has now been given to S.S. Ahluwalia.
Jaswant Singh 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.
His supporters in Barmer have chalked out a strategy to field him as an Independent.
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 and joined the BJP. Fielding him immediately after joining the BJP has sent a wrong message to the voters. He should have been made to work in the organisation at least for some years before he was given such an opportunity,” said a local BJP leader.
If Jaswant Singh decides to contest, he may upset the equation against Sonaram 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.
Voting for the 25 parliamentary constituencies in the state will take place April 17 and 24. In the 2009 elections, the Congress won 20 seats and the BJP four while one seat went to an Independent.
Jaswant Singh hails from Jasol village in Barmer district. He was a member of the union cabinet during the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government.