Upset over the denial of a ticket, former Union minister and Bharatiya Janata Party veteran Jaswant Singh on Sunday said he has decided to contest the Lok Sabha elections as an independent from Barmer constituency in Rajasthan and will file his nomination papers on Sunday.
Singh, however, is not resigning from the party yet and said he would consult his colleagues before taking that step.
"Yes, I am filing my nomination papers from Barmer. Independent or not, will depend on the party's attitude," he said when asked whether he would contest despite the denial of a ticket from his home constituency.
The 76-year-old leader, who currently represents Darjeeling in Lok Sabha, is upset over the Barmer seat being given to recent entrant from Congress Sonaram Chowdhry.
To a specific query about his resignation in the wake of his 48-hour deadline to the BJP, Singh said, "I will speak about this after consulting my colleagues and others in Barmer and then take a decision."
Singh said nobody in the BJP had tried to reach him ever since he set the 48-hour deadline for quitting the party.
"If I am not emotional about my home and my party, then what am I going to be emotional about? If the party decides to talk to me, they know my numbers and how I can be reached. Since I came here, nobody has tried to reach me," he said.
On BJP chief Rajnath Singh's remark -- that his services will be utilised by the party appropriately -- he said, "I am not a piece of furniture. The choice of the adjective 'adjust' itself is indicative of the mentality. You cannot adjust with principles and it is insulting".
Slamming the BJP president's remarks -- that the party will compensate him after the elections -- Singh said, "I reject the thought and I reject the mentality behind it. They can keep it for themselves".
He added, "The thoughts behind this chain of words are full of arrogance and disrespect".
On posters of Narendra Modi being torn up by Jaswant Singh's supporters in Rajasthan, the former Union minister said, "If the posters are being torn up, then I think the party has to reflect deeply on why it is happening".
Singh added, "Throughout my political life I have worked for the welfare of the party according to what situations demand. I do not approve of adjustment politics".
The senior BJP leader had on Saturday attacked the party leadership for denying him a ticket and said one needs to distinguish between the "real" and the "fake" BJP. He also alleged that the party has been taken over by "outsiders".
He has been demanding a party ticket from his home constituency of Barmer as this will be his last election. He represented the Darjeeling constituency in the outgoing Lok Sabha, from where the party has nominated former Rajya Sabha member S S Ahluwalia.
Singh was a senior minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance government, in which he held various important portfolios including external affairs, defence and finance.
Meanwhile, Manvendra Singh, Jaswant Singh's son, a Member of Legislative Assembly in the Vasundhara Raje-led government in Rajasthan, has also indicated that he might follow in his father's footsteps.
When contacted, Manvendra said he was "extremely stressed out" and was resting.
Rejecting reports that he has written to the BJP about the current situation, he said, "I have not written to the party and I have informed the party that I am stressed out and need some rest."
When contacted, party spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said, "Jaswant Singh is a senior party leader and has made a lot of contribution to the party. The party will like to use his experience. The contribution and respect the party has for him cannot be weighed against one ticket."
"We are hopeful that he will not take any drastic steps considering his seniority and maturity," he said.
Asked about Jaswant Singh's decision to contest independently from Barmer, BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu sought to downplay the issue.
"He did not get a ticket and because of that he might have said something. I wish Jaswantji does not do anything like that. The party has always respected him. The party sent him to Rajya Sabha. The party had made him the finance minister. The party had made him the external affairs minister. So, there is no question of sidelining him," Naidu said in Chennai.
"I respect Jaswant Singh. I do not want to join issue with him. And secondly, if somebody does not get a ticket and makes such a statement, it is understandable," he said.
Meanwhile Manvendra Singh, Jaswant Singh's son, who is currently a Member of Legislative Assembly in the Vasundhara Raje-led government in Rajasthan, has also indicated that he might follow in his father's footsteps.
When contacted, Manvendra told PTI that he was "extremely stressed out" and was resting.
Rejecting reports claiming he has written to the BJP about the current situation, he said, "I have not written to the party and I have informed the party that I am stressed out and need some rest."
BJP sources said that Manvendra has sought a month off to rest and is unlikely to attend the party meetings in Rajasthan for the preparation and campaigning during the Lok Sabha polls.
Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj had on Saturday sparked a controversy by saying the decision on Jaswant Singh's ticket was not taken at the party's Central Election Committee meeting and there must have been some reason for the "unusual" denial of ticket to him.
She said she was "saddened" at Singh not being given a ticket.
Image: Jaswant Singh