The former Union Minister’s son and BJP MLA Manvendra Singh cites poor health to ask a month’s leave from the party
From outside, Jaswant Singh’s residence in this sparsely populated village, wore a deserted look on Sunday. Inside, under a shamiyana (tent), were seated some of his supporters patiently waiting for “saahab,” as he is respectfully referred to around here, to return from Jodhpur after visiting religious places.
Mr. Singh was in Jasol, his native village, to meet his supporters and seek their opinion on his future course of action after he was denied a BJP ticket to contest from the Barmer parliamentary constituency.
The uncertainty over his move to resign from the BJP and contest as an Independent persisted throughout Sunday with the former Union Minister asking journalists to “wait and watch” for his next step, most likely to be revealed on Monday.
However, sources close to Mr. Singh said there was no scope for any reconciliation with the BJP leadership and it was almost certain that he would file his nomination as an Independent on Monday.
“He is very upset with the party leadership over this [denial of ticket]... In the past, he has contested from wherever the party asked him to... Even in the last parliamentary polls, he was sent to Darjeeling against his wish but he followed the party's instructions... They all thought he would lose but he proved everyone wrong,” a source told The Hindu on the condition of anonymity.
“And this time, we cannot understand why he was denied the party ticket when he would have certainly won from here... Sonaram Chaudhary, [the Congress renegade who has got the BJP ticket from here] has lost to Manvendra Singh [Jaswant Singh's son] in a previous parliamentary contest,” said the source.
In this part of Barmer, there was hardly any doubt about the popular opinion, which sided wholeheartedly with Mr. Singh.
“What is this... how can they do it to him? He was the one who built Bhajapa [BJP],” said a puncture-repair shop owner in Balotara, about 5 km from here. “We will definitely vote for saahab...who else is there,” he said.
Even as Mr. Singh was on his way to Barmer, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje was holding a meeting with MLAs from western Rajasthan, over the impasse, in Jaipur.
Mr. Singh’s son Manvendra, who is a legislator from the Sheo constituency in Barmer, did not attend the meeting due to illness, his family said.
Earlier, reacting to BJP leader Arun Jaitley’s statement expressing regret the party couldn’t “adjust” the veteran leader, Mr. Singh said “I am not a piece of furniture to be adjusted... I am one of the founders of the party.”
He also thanked party leader Sushma Swaraj for coming out in his support.
At 11 a.m. on Monday, Mr. Singh is expected to file his nomination as an Independent after a public meeting in Barmer’s Adarsh stadium.