Business Standard

Rebellion in Rajasthan: Congress, BJP leaders reveal why they jumped ship

Manavendra Singh and Colonel Sonaram Choudhary tell Business Standard why they jumped ship

Sai Manish 

Rajasthan Assembly elections 2018
Manavendra Singh (Left) and Colonel Sonaram Choudhary. File photo

Theirs is perhaps the most high profile rebellion in Rajasthan. Colonel Sonaram Choudhary, a Jat strongman from Barmer, is contesting the Assembly elections for the first time on a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket. Manavendra Singh, a Rajput by caste and son of former Union minister Jaswant Singh, will be contesting his first-ever election on a ticket. Singh, whose family hails from Barmer, was a MP from the constituency from 2004 to 2009. In 2013, Singh had the Sheo constituency of Barmer for the Colonel Choudhary, meanwhile, is a four-time MP from Barmer -- thrice for the from 1996 to 2004 and once for the in 2014. Colonel Choudhary jumped ship just before the 2014 Parliamentary elections. was removed from the BJP's national executive before the 2014 elections while he was a sitting MLA for the party in Rajasthan. Months before the 2018 Assembly elections in the state, he quit the BJP to join the Congress, which fielded him against Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje in her pocket borough Jhalarapatan. In interviews with Business Standard, both leaders reveal why they quit their parties and how life has changed after jumping ship. Below are excerpts from these interviews: My friendship with Rahul Gandhi is why I am in Congress: Manvendra Singh

Q: How different is campaigning for the than it was for BJP?

Manvendra Singh: The sociology of the voter base is different. As a BJP person, I have campaigned only in Barmer. So it would be difficult to say how different would it be campaigning for the same party in Jhalarapatan. In Barmer people gather at one place and one has to get out of one’s car, meet them and carry on. Here, one has to walk along villages, its bylanes and streets. My campaign is particularly aimed at streets where Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes stay.

I’m not campaigning differently because of the change in my party. It has more to do with a change in the region from where I am contesting. I can’t see the BJP campaigning much here so I can’t say how different my approach is to theirs. Campaigning against the CM Vasundhara Raje is the biggest change. Not too many people are politically privileged enough to contest against the CM. So it is a bigger challenge. (Click here to read the full interview)

Good to be with BJP as it is in power everywhere: Sona Ram Choudhary
Q: How different is it contesting national elections for Congress and the very next assembly election for BJP?

Sona Ram Choudhary: This time it is even more difficult and tricky and requires greater personal touch than it did before. In a broader sense, local elections are always more difficult than national ones. A lot more people are there with their own needs which need to be fulfilled. One big advantage being with the BJP is that it is doing so well and is in power in so many states in India. PM Modi has a wonderful record and has launched many social sector schemes that are benefiting the people. The same is the case with Vasundhara Raje. People vote for the party which is doing good because that is good for the state and for the nation. (Click here to read the full interview)

First Published: Thu, December 06 2018. 16:01 IST