But will BJP lose Barmer now? The rebuffed leader can exact sweet revenge contesting as Independent
The BJP central leadership’s decision to deny senior party leader Jaswant Singh his wish of contesting from Barmer is being seen as a victory of sorts for Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and a culmination of the seven-year-old dramatic rivalry between the two stalwarts.
Her victory cements Ms. Raje’s pre-eminence in the party’s State unit. From the early part of the past decade, she has managed to neutralise, even demolish, the clout of almost all local BJP leaders who refuse to pledge allegiance to her. Mr. Singh is only the latest major party satrap in Rajasthan to be sidelined by the central leadership on her insistence.
Overlooking him, however, seems perfectly in line with the BJP’s overall grand scheme of silencing senior leaders — L.K. Advani and Yashwant Sinha, for instance — and shifting the balance of power in favour of the new crop of Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh, Ms. Raje and so on.
Ironically, it was Mr. Singh who, along with former vice-president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, was instrumental in introducing Ms. Raje into State politics.
After the 2003 Assembly elections, which led to Ms. Raje becoming Chief Minister for the first time, Mr. Singh, the then Union Finance Minister, played a key role in making her the party’s choice for chief ministership.
An emotional Ms. Raje, wiping tears of joy, had then touched Mr. Singh’s feet.
Things took a turn for the worse barely four years later when Mr. Singh’s wife, Sheetal Kanwar, filed a police complaint in June 2007 against the publishers of a poster depicting the Chief Minister as a Hindu goddess, a move that miffed Ms. Raje.
Five months later in November 2007, the strained relations between the two reached a new high when Ms. Raje ordered a CID investigation against Mr. Singh for allegedly hosting an opium soiree for dissident BJP leaders, mostly those opposed to her, at his native village Jasol.
For a brief period in 2012, the duo decided to bury the hatchet in view of the 2013 Assembly election, and toured Barmer together building ground for his son, Manvendra Singh.
But after the BJP came to power in last year’s Assembly polls, Mr. Manavendra Singh, who won from the Sheo Assembly constituency, was kept out of Ms. Raje’s cabinet, much to the chagrin of the father-son duo.
Now, with the central leadership giving Mr. Jaswant Singh the short shrift in favour of Ms. Raje, the fall-out is complete and Mr. Singh will likely be filing his nomination as an independent candidate from Barmer on Monday.
If he wins — and there is a strong possibility that he will — it would be sweet revenge for him, turning the tables on Ms. Raje.
“I don't know if he will be filing his nomination as an independent ... that is entirely his decision,” Mr. Manavendra Singh told The Hindu on Friday.