JAIPUR: In a jolt to the ruling BJP in poll-bound Rajasthan, party veteran Jaswant Singh’s son Manvendra Singh announced his decision to quit the party on Saturday at his Swabhiman rally in Barmer.
“Hamari bhool kamal ka phool (joining the BJP was mistake),” the BJP MLA from Sheo told his supporters. Manvendra, however, has not yet disclosed his political course despite speculation he would join the Congress.
Manvendra’s exit is seen as a loss to the BJP in Rajput-dominated districts. Sri Rajput Karni Sena supremo Sukhdev Singh Gogamedi was present at the Barmer rally. The Rajput community is already angry with the BJP over various issues.
The BJP MLA along with his wife Chitra Singh had been campaigning aggressively in Barmer and Jaisalmer districts.
“There have been many rallies, but today’s rally is the biggest. It is about Swabhiman (self-respect),” Manvendra said, adding that “Swabhiman is our right and we are committed to it.”
Ever since his father was denied a BJP ticket in 2014, Manvendra’s ties with the party has been strained.
Though Jaswant Singh lost the election, the former Union Minister had got substantial votes from the Rajputs as well as other communities in his former stronghold Barmer.
Going back to the issue, Manvendra said he was “running out of patience” and now it was “time for him to speak out.”
He openly challenged Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, saying that the storm is now heading eastwards to Jaipur.
In his address, Manvendra said PM Narendra Modi in 2014 told him that he had no role in denial of ticket to Jaswant Singh.
Political analysts said the Congress will gain if Manvendra joins it as the Rajputs are traditional voters of BJP. Not just Rajputs, but associated communities such as Rawana Rajput, Charans, Rajpurohits and Prajapats may also shift towards the party.
The other advantage the Congress, they said, will have is that Manvendra enjoys good equation with Muslim voters.
But there were some who felt otherwise. If the Rajput vote shifts towards the Congress, then the Jats will shift towards the BJP, they contended.