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Denied LS ticket by BJP, Jaswant Singh says will file nomination on Monday

NetIndian News Network

Jaipur, March 23, 2014

Not furniture that BJP can adjust me: Jaswant
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Jaswant Singh, who is upset at being denied a party ticket to contest the coming Lok Sabha elections from his home town of Barmer in Rajasthan, today confirmed that he would file his nomination from there tomorrow, presumably as an independent candidate.
At the same time, he ruled out joining the Congress or any other party, saying it was insulting to him for any party to even think on such lines.
Reacting to media reports that the Congress might try and rope him in, Mr Singh, 76, told newspersons in his village that he had spent his entire political life in the BJP and had never thought of joining any other party.
"If the Congress is thinking along those lines, it is a waste of their time," he said.
But, despite repeated queries, he refused to confirm or deny whether the Congress had, in fact, made any overtures to him or not.
To another question, Mr Singh said he would go to Barmer tomorrow and file his nominations. "I will go to Barmer, will discuss the issue with others and act accordingly," he said.
Asked if he would resign from the party before filing his nomination, he said these things would be known tomorrow.
Mr Singh was particularly unhappy with senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley's statement that the party could not "adjust" Mr Singh in its list of candidates and that it would find other ways of using his abilities.
"I saw on television a party leader saying that the could not 'adjust' me. The choice of words shows their way of thinking and their arrogant nature. It is insulting to me. I am not a piece of furniture, a chair or a table, which can be moved to some other part of the room if it does not fit in one place.
"I don't want to be 'adjusted'," he said. "All my life, I have worked for the party, in its best interests, to the best of my ability," he said.
About Barmer, he said it was the place where he was born and where he had grown. "All that I know today, I learnt from here," he said.
Asked about the caste equations in the area, Mr Singh regretted that the social fabric of the region was being torn by such considerations. He said he had never practised such politics. "You cannot divide society and people in this manner. If we persist in doing so, the state will end up as a second-rate UP, a third-rate Bihar," he said.
The BJP had, on Friday, announced that its candidate from Barmer would be Col Sonaram Chaudhary, a former MLA, who had recently joined it after resigning from the Congress, ignoring Mr Singh's claims and his wish that he be allowed to contest what could possibly be his last election from his home turf.
Reacting to the move, Mr Singh had hit out at the party yesterday, saying that it had been encroached upon by "outsiders", an obvious reference to the fact that it had given tickets to several people who had joined it in recent weeks, ignoring the claims of party loyalists.
He also made it clear to journalists at Jodhpur on his way to barmer that he would not indulge in any kid of bargaining with the party for post-election positions or any other officers from it.
"My sense of honour is not subject to trading," he said, even as Mr Jaitley and BJP President Rajnath Singh said that the party would utilise Mr Singh's abilities in some other way.
Mr Rajnath Singh said the importance that the BJP acccorded to Mr Singh could not be judged on the basis of an election ticket alone. "He is far above that," he said.
"The challenge today is between the real BJP and the fake BJP," Mr Singh said. "Only the people can decide on the difference between the two," he said.
He said he had lived and struggled all these years to uphold the principles on which the BJP was founded and it was important that he continued to do so.
He said it was for the BJP to realise what would add value to the party, to India and to the people of India.
The BJP's decision to deny the ticket to Mr Singh is being seen as yet another indication that the old order in the party is being forced to yield place to the new.
According to media reports, Mr Singh had conveyed to the BJP leadership that he would contest the election from Barmer as an independent candidate if the party decided against nominating him.
He has never contested from Barmer, having been elected to the Lok Sabha from Chittorgarh in Rajasthan in 1991 and 1996, and from Darjeeling in West Bengal in the last general elections in 2009.
According to sources, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had pushed for a ticket for Col Choudhary, a Jat leader, after he joined the BJP some time ago.
Col Choudhary had lost the 2004 Lok Sabha elections from Barmer to Mr Jaswant Singh's son Manvendra Singh, who now represents Sheo - a part of the Barmer Parliamentary constituency - in the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly.
The move to deny Mr Singh a ticket has also upset a section of BJP workers in Barmer, who staged protests and tore party posters to express their anger.
The denial of the party nomination to Mr Singh came just a day after the BJP had, on Thursday, managed to mollify its veteran leader Lal Krishna Advani into accepting the party's decision to field him from Gandhinagar in Gujarat, though he had expressed his wish to shift to Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.
Earlier, another party veteran, Murli Manohar Joshi, was reportedly upset after he had to make way for BJP Prime Ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who wanted to contest the Lok Sabha elections from his constituency of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. He was persuaded finally to move to Kanpur.
Another senior leader, Lalji Tandon, had to give up his claim over Lucknow, the seat held by him, to accommodate Mr Rajnath Singh, who decided against contesting from Ghaziabad, the seat he had won the last time.
In Punjab, three-time MP and former Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu had to make way in Amritsar for senior leader Arun Jaitley.
Yesterday, the BJP denied renomination to seven-time MP Harin Pathak from Ahmedabad East and fielded well-known actor Paresh Rawal as its candidate from the constituency. Mr Pathak is known to be close to Mr Advani and was reportedly not on very good terms with Mr Modi.
NNN

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