Expelled BJP leader and the former Union External Affairs Minister, Jaswant Singh, said in unequivocal terms here on Tuesday that he had reached a point of no return with the party. There was no place for him or his family in the BJP any more, said the veteran who was expelled last month from the party for his views on Mohammad Ali Jinnah in his much talked about book, “Jinnah: India Partition Independence.”
Interestingly, Mr. Singh chose the residence of former Vice-President, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, to announce his decision to finally part ways with the BJP. “I am a person with self-respect. I will not return to the party,” said Mr. Singh, who brought a few of his followers in a delegation to the Civil Lines residence of Mr. Shekhawat. Mr. Singh hinted that his son, former Member of Parliament Manavendra Singh, also had no future in the BJP.
The event, initially meant to be an occasion to launch a new platform for forces opposed to the official BJP leadership at the Centre and former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje in the State, remained a rather sober affair with only a crowd of less than 100 persons assembling on the lawns of the house. Rajput strongman from Bikaner Devi Singh Bhati, the former Minister, Narendra Kanwar, and Bhagwan Singh Rolsabsar, president of the Pratap Foundation, a Rajput community organisation, were among those present.
“I have not come here for small time politics. Now my road is different,” said Mr. Singh addressing the gathering. “I will not join the Congress. Neither can I go back to the place I was pushed out from.” He announced a week-long mass contact programme for him in Jodhpur, Barmer and Jaisalmer districts.
Even while sources close to Mr. Shekhawat maintained that the event was deliberately kept low-key, they too sounded disappointed at the small number of persons present.
Mr. Shekhawat tried to do the balancing act by not precipitating the situation for the party leadership. He advised more caution on the part of both Mr. Singh and the Rajput community in going the whole hog against the BJP. “Political situations need political solutions. If there is a crisis, solution has to be sought from within,” he said hinting that he would rather prefer Mr. Singh to negotiate with the party leaders.
While reminding the gathering that he was not a member of the BJP, Mr. Shekhawat said caste groups cannot make political parties.
His observations came amid shouts from the audience that Rajputs, who had nourished the BJP with their “blood,” were being given a raw deal by the party. Narpat Singh Rajvi, former Minister and son-in-law of Mr. Shekahwat, did not attend the meeting.
According to the original plan, the event was intended to communicate the Rajput community’s dismay at the BJP’s treatment to its leaders, be it Mr. Jaswant Singh or Ms. Raje. Mr. Jaswant Singh even pointed out in his speech that the Union Cabinet at present was devoid of any member from the community. “The community symbolises self-respect. The self-respect comes from empowerment. The safety also is associated with this,” he said.