Barmer, Rajasthan: At the age of 76, Jaswant Singh is officially a political renegade again. After the BJP told him he cannot run as its candidate from Barmer in Rajasthan, Mr Singh has decided to go solo. He filed his nomination papers as an independent candidate this afternoon.
The BJP has flashed a series of signals that Mr Singh will just have to deal. (Op-ed: Jaswant Singh, BJP's odd one out) Sources say Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who allegedly played a role in ensuring he did not land Barmer, as desired, will tomorrow accompany the man she lobbied for, Colonel Sonaram Choudhary, when he files his papers declaring his candidature.
"I hope Jaswant Singh sees reason, and retracts his decision to contest. If the party tells you to work for the party, must learn to accept that. Lakhs of people work for the party without aspiring for a position," said senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley to NDTV yesterday. (Leaders should learn to accept 'no': Jaitley)
The BJP will have to decide whether to expel Mr Singh for the second time in four years. In 2009, he was expelled after his book was seen as cheerleading for Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.
Adding to the new contretemps is the fact that Mr Singh's son, Manvendra, represents the BJP in the Rajasthan legislature.
Though Mr Singh won the last national election in 2009 from Darjeeling in West Bengal, he said he wanted to fight this one from Barmer because he was born here.
Mr Singh's supporters point out that Colonel Sonaram Choudhary joined the BJP after quitting the Congress just days ago. (Colouring the electoral landscape: defectors and dissenters) But the retired Army officer is a Jat, the community which is in the majority in Barmer. Mr Singh, his supporters say, has the support of Rajputs and Muslims, who make up nearly 14 percent of the population.