'The culture of the BJP has changed and the party too has changed with this new culture.
'The BJP is having bad political management, bad man management, personal management and inter-personal relationships.'
'Therefore, people like me are not in the BJP.'
The Congress party on Saturday, November 17, fielded Manvendra Singh -- former journalist, columnist, ex-MP and ex-MLA -- against Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje from the Jhalrapatan constituency in the state assembly election slated for December 7.
Manvendra Singh -- whose ailing father Jaswant Singh served as Atal Bihari Vajpayee's foreign and finance ministers -- resigned as the Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Sheo and quit the BJP in September. He joined the Congress thereafter.
"I have joined the Congress because of my friendship with Rahul Gandhi," Manvendra Singh tells <Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf.
The Congress has given you a huge responsibility within weeks of your joining the party.
It is a surprise to me.
I am honoured that they thought me of worthy of this challenge.
I will now live up to the trust put on me.
I will fight clean and fair elections which is a nature of our politics. I will live accordingly.
Vasundhara Raje has not lost from Jhalrapatan since 2003. Don't you think it is an uphill task to take her on on her home turf?
It is certainly a challenge and I have no doubts about it.
But then it is a challenge and I will live up to it. I understand that.
Vasundhara Raje has said the Congress could not find any candidate to contest against her, therefore they got you to parachute from another constituency.
Everybody is a parachuter in some sense or the other.
They do what the party decides. I will face the challenge as it comes.
What are the issues on which you will seek votes from the people?
There is anger against the current Rajasthan government's functioning among the voters.
That will be my main plank.
While joining the Congress, you said you have found a friend in its president Rahul Gandhi. What are his qualities that appealed to you so much that you left the BJP?
We always had a very transparent, free and frank conversation as friends.
This put more faith in me towards him.
I trust Rahul Gandhi and he is great.
We are very close with each other and we have built trust (over a period of time).
Therefore, I have joined the Congress party.
It is said that you can help the Congress by transferring Rajput votes away from the BJP.
I have not come to the Congress on some caste factor.
I have joined the Congress because of my friendship with Rahul Gandhi.
Kamal ka phool hamari bhool (the lotus -- the BJP's party symbol -- was our mistake) was your parting shot at the BJP. Why did you say that?
The BJP is a changed party now.
The culture of the BJP has changed now and the party too has changed with this new culture.
Therefore, people like me are not in the BJP.
What is going in the Rajasthan BJP since many of its leaders are joining the Congress party -- you and more recently Harish Chandra Meena, the MP from Dausa?
The BJP is having bad political management, bad man management, personal management and inter-personal relationships.
All these things are building (up against the BJP).
Your father has been in a coma for the last four years. Did you seek his blessings before announcing your candidature against Vasundhara Raje?
Before joining the Congress party, I went up to him to seek his blessings and permission.
Unfortunately, he is not in a position to reply to me.
Given the circumstances, I am sure he would not have opposed me.