After the BJP told him he cannot run as its candidate from Barmer in Rajasthan, Jaswant Singh has decided to go solo. He filed his nomination papers as an independent candidate this afternoon.
"NaMo NaMo is a chant for God, not humans... NaMo chant diminishes God by treating human beings as Gods," Mr Singh, 76, told NDTV, referring to the moniker used for the prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, and joining the club of detractors who accuse the leader off hubris and the BJP of making him the sole selling point of its campaign.
Mr Singh also claimed that he had been expelled by party president Rajnath Singh on the phone for a second time, a charge the BJP has not yet confirmed. (Highlights of his speech
He said that the party had earlier dialed in his eviction in 2009 over the allegation that his book cheer-leaded Mohd Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. He was re-inducted 10 months later at the urging of senior leader LK Advani.
"Shouldn't have returned to the BJP after first-time expulsion," he told NDTV.
At the alleged lobbying of Vasundhra Raje, the BJP has picked Colonel (retd) Sonaram Choudhary as the candidate from Barmer. The retired army officer quit the Congress for the BJP just days ago. Mr Singh's supporters say it's preposterous for a newcomer to be rewarded at the cost of a veteran. But the retired army officer is from the dominant Jat community in Barmer, which could make him a vote-getter.
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 from Darjeeling in West Bengal, he said he wanted to fight this one from Barmer because he was born here.