Millennium Post

When Jaswant cuts a lonely figure

One might have become accustomed to see politicians, especially the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, washing their dirty linen in public recently. The latest in the news is Jaswant Singh, an established leader of the saffron party. He is deeply hurt by the decision of the party, calling shots anticipating a tsunami under the leadership of its prime ministerial candidate, Narender Modi.

Jaswant Singh was expecting party nomination from Barmer Lok Sabha seat in Rajasthan. Immediately after being denial of the nomination, Jaswant Singh expressed his anger while announcing his irrevocable intention to file his nomination as an independent candidate.

Jaswant Singh, 76, a former army officer, started walking on a different path after relinquishing his assignment in the services. He ventured into the tedious lanes of politics in late 60s. He felt disappointed due to lack of any recognition in the field where it is quite difficult to find a genuine guide. Bhairon Singh Shekhawat recognised Jaswant’s capabilities and brought him into the fold of the Bhartiya Jansangh, an earlier incarnation of the BJP. He was first elected to the Rajya Sabha, the elder house of Parliament in 1980. Jaswant Singh had been a member of the Rajya Sabha five times and Lok Sabha four times. He was last elected to Lok Sabha in 2009 from Darjeeling, West Bengal, as a BJP candidate supported by a Gurkha outfit.

Jaswant was the only BJP Lok Sabha member elected from the land of the fiery brand Trinmool Congress Supremo, Mamata Banerjee and land of the communists. During the last 34 years he occupied a number of positions in the Union government and Parliament. He was appointed as the finance minister in 1996 in 13 day long Vajpayee government, external affairs minister in 1998 in the first NDA government headed by Vajpayee and again finance minister in July 2002 in addition to holding the portfolios of defence, company affairs and planning commission. He also contested as NDA candidate supported by Jaylalithaa against Vice President Hamid Ansari.

Jaswant Singh had been in the news for mentioning existence of a mole in the office of the prime minister, Narsimha Rao. He had to face severe criticism for this sort of insinuation and had to retract after the challenge posed by the present Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.  Jaswant Singh could not establish any substance on the said insinuation. Jaswant Singh always remained on the receiving end because of escorting terrorists to Kandhar in exchange of release of passengers of a hijacked plane. Jaswant Singh was expelled from the party on 17 August 2009 as he was facing criticism on account of his latest book, India, Pakistan Independence. Jaswant had criticised Pandit Nehru for terming him responsible for the partition further praising Jinnah. The book was later banned in Gujarat. Jaswant Singh returned to the party on 23 June 2010. He expressed his gratitude to Advani for his cooperation in returning to the mainstream of the saffron party.

Earlier Jaswant had criticised Advani for his denial on a party to the decision on Kandhar episode stating that Advani had been privy to the decision at that point of time. Jaswant with his long public life and vast experience probably could not understand the style of the functioning of the party under its Modi-ised culture. He might not also have been able to absorb the influence and aura of Vasundhara Raje after her taking over as the chief minister again. Jaswant could have also understood the tone of the party while deciding the ticket of Bhish Pitamah and the treatment meted out to him right from the day when Modi was declared the prime minister candidate.

Vasundhara has acquired a taller status than even late Shekhawat; Vasundhra had been able to secure thumping majority for his party in Assembly elections twice whereas Shekhawat had to survive on independents after two assembly elections. It is also a well-known fact that the party had to strive hard in getting her removed from the post of the leader of opposition in the last assembly.

All efforts of the party went in vein. One may easily understand that the NDA is in offering concessions to the allies and the new entrants in run up to accomplish its mission 272. The NDA had to follow veto of its eldest ally Akali Dal and Punjab Chief Minister Badal on renomination of Navjot Singh Sidhu from Amritsar. If one NDA chief minister can stick to his guns on the issue of ticket allocation how Vasundhara can be left in the lurch on such issues. Moreover, the BJP has probably used different yard sticks in deciding tickets in various states.

The newcomers, whatever might be their background, have been accommodated. The senior most leader has been feeling neglected since he opted not to recommend any name and press for any nomination. It has forced the younger brother, Shiv Sena to give sermons to the elder brother on the present ticket scenario and to talk about onset of a new era and continuation of an existing era.

The author is a communication consultant
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