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After L. K. Advani’s, a rebellion is brewing among Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers in Barmer, too. It is a seat that Advani loyalist Jaswant Singh wants to contest one last time but the recent induction of Col Sonaram, a former Congress legislator from the region, has posed a challenge to Jaswant’s prospects.
Aides of Jaswant said he has made up his mind to contest from Barmer and is likely to file his nomination on March 24, be it on a BJP ticket or as an independent. Barmer is widely seen as a family seat with Jaswant’s son Manvendra Singh having contested it twice and winning it in 2004. The family’s village, Jasol, falls in the district.
Since Col Sonaram joined, Vasundhara Raje has been lobbying for a ticket for the Jat leader on the argument that Barmer has a large Jat population. And Jaswant is said to have taken offence at this last-minute dithering.
Party sources said Raje wants to keep Jaswant out of the state anticipating yet another power centre if he goes on to win and hold an important portfolio. If she is made to relent, she is likely to try accommodating Sonaram in Pali, again with a sizeable Jat population.
Party workers in Barmer have protested against Sonaram’s possible candidature, saying they had been working against him for six elections and could not possibly go out seeking votes for him. Some workers threatened to resign if Sonaram is given a ticket while others have questioned the point of feedback meetings where they had proposed Jaswant’s name.
It was Advani’s rebellion that prevented the BJP election committee from denying a ticket to Jaswant Singh outright Wednesday.
Rajasthan leaders’ eyes will be on the next CEC meeting, with Advani having climbed down Thursday.
Jaswant was elected to the Lok Sabha from Darjeeling in 2009. He is no longer inclined to contest from there and the party has announced senior leader SS Ahluwalia as its candidate.
The BJP announced 21 candidates for Rajasthan late Tuesday, holding back names for the Barmer, Pali, Ajmer and Dholpur-Karauli. The party is undecided whom to field in Ajmer, which is likely to see stiff competition from union minister and state Congress chief Sachin Pilot.