The BJP on Saturday evening expelled its senior leader Jaswant Singh, who has filed his nomination papers from Barmer as an independent candidate after the party denied him a ticket, for six years. This is the second time the party has expelled the 76-year-old former Finance and External Affairs Minister. He was shown the door in 2009 over his controversial book that lauded Pakistan’s founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah. The BJP also expelled another senior leader, Subash Maharia, who had also filed his nomination in Rajasthan against a BJP candidate after being denied a ticket. Another rebel candidate, Lal Muni Chaubey, was spared action as he withdrew his nomination from the Buxar seat after the intervention of the party’s prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
Jaswant has been representing the BJP in Parliament for the past 34 years, both as Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha member. During the 2009 election he was elected from the Darjeling seat with the support of a Gorkhaland party. However, the veteran expressed his desire to contest his “last election” from Barmer in Rajasthan.
However, state chief minister Vasundhra Raje insisted that former Congress leader Colonel Sona Ram Chaudhary be given a ticket. Jaswant, who did not share a good equation with Raje, was thus denied the ticket. Raje told the BJP’s central election committee that Jaswant stood no chance to win the seat dominated by the Jat community that constitutes 25 percent of the electorate in Barmer. So she insisted that ticket should go to Chaudhary, a Jat leader. Jaswant’s Rajput community constitutes seven percent in the constituency, a reason cited to deny him the ticket.
Ironically, Chaudhary lost to a BJP candidate in the Assembly elections in 2013. And he had lost the Lok Sabha election from Barmer in 2004 to BJP candidate Manvendra Singh, who is Jaswant’s son and currently a BJP MLA.