‘Jaswant is sacked without show-cause notice, but Vasundhara could defy directive to resign’

Having come out in support of sacked BJP leader Jaswant Singh, India's former vice-president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat speaks out about the BJP's affairs, including the role of the RSS. Free of office or a party position, he does not mince words in this interview with Pradeep Kaushal. Excerpts:

You have extended your support to Jaswant Singh. Have you reached an understanding with him for launching a common programme?

He has convened a meeting of his supporters at my Jaipur residence for September 22. After my stand in his favour, there is an upsurge of public support for him. Of course, I would also address this meeting.

Would you make it a Rajput cause?

Neither Jaswant Singh nor I have pursued caste politics. Jaswant Singh has never associated himself with any casteist formation of Rajputs. However, there is no denying the fact that Rajputs are angry over the treatment meted out to him.

But he has been expelled by a fellow Rajput, Rajnath Singh.

Then he will have to face consequences.

Do you disapprove of the way Jaswant Singh was expelled from the BJP?

I feel some people manipulated his ouster. You tell me, would it not require somebody to first read his book and then take a position? Considering that the party had a problem, shouldn't he be given an opportunity to explain his position?

In this backdrop, there has been a suggestion that the RSS should take over the BJP. Do you think it would help the party?

Who can take over the BJP? And, even if someone does, do you think it is easy to run a party? Let someone get elected as a sarpanch and then try taking over even a panchayat.

Do you endorse the advice recently given by RSS sarsanghchalak Mohanrao Bhagwat to the BJP to install a leadership in the age range of 50-60 years at the helm?

... contd.

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