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Snubbed by BJP, Jaswant maintains suspense over fighting as independent

Jodhpur, Mar 22 (PTI): Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Jaswant Singh, denied a ticket by his party, on Saturday ruled out any compromise on his demand for Barmer constituency in Rajasthan and appeared to keep his options open on contesting from the seat as an independent.

He also criticised the party leadership without taking any names. His comments came as party President Rajnath Singh and senior leader Arun Jaitley spoke of using Singh's services in an appropriate manner.

“The party has done this to me twice now and now there is no chance of accepting any alternative proposal,” Jaswant told the media a day after the party gave Barmer ticket to a recent entrant and Congress defector Col Sonaram Chowdhry.

The denial of a ticket to Jaswant, who is considered close to BJP veteran L.K. Advani, came a day after the party patriarch was virtually forced to choose the Gandhinagar seat in Gujarat, against his wishes to contest from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.

Jaswant, who would be reaching Barmer on Sunday, refused to disclose his plans on whether he would be filing his nomination as an independent.

“Everything will be decided only after I reach Barmer and have a discussion with my supporters,” he said.

Referring to the denial of a ticket to him and the way the party has disregarded other senior leaders, Jaswant said that “this party of ideology is tragically being encroached upon by those who have been arch detractors of BJP’s ideology.”

“It is so unfortunate that the BJP has been completely taken over by the elements (outsiders), who never have any respect of party’s ideology”, he said without naming anyone.

The former Union minister said that the BJP was now divided into two factions “one which is real and the other is unreal or better put, original and duplicate. Unfortunately the duplicate part has the reins of the party now.”

Opposing giving tickets to those who have recently joined the party either as defectors or as new entrants in politics, Singh remarked sarcastically that “for them it is easy to have a BJP ticket than to have a rail or a flight.”

His earlier three terms in the Lok Sabha have been from Jodhpur and Chittorgarh in Rajasthan, and Darjeeling in West Bengal.

Singh turned emotional as he spoke of his “pain” but made it clear that he does not want to do the “politics” of emotions.

He recalled the contributions of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and in building the party and wondered where the party is going now.

A close associate of Vajpayee as well as Advani, whose influence has also waned in the party, Jaswant said it is important for the subscribers of the philosophy of BJP to know who has ”encroached” on it.

”They should ask where is the party going.”

Meanwhile, BJP president Rajnath Singh insisted that Jaswant’s “respect” cannot be determined on the basis of ticket.

“Jaswant Singh is a senior leader of the party and we respect him. His dignity (pratistha) cannot be measured in terms of tickets. We will utilize his services and experience appropriately,” Rajnath Singh told reporters.

Asked whether the party will take action against Jaswant if he contests as an independent as is being reported, the BJP chief dismissed it as a hypothetical question.


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