It is deeply regretful that this is the second occasion for such a happening; the first was an abrupt and insulting expulsion from the party, that, too over the telephone. This second is an involuntary act occasioned by unacceptable conduct by the party leadership in respect of the Barmer-Jaisalmer parliamentary constituency.
This constituency is my home. I was born here, in village Jasol: my mother was from Khuri, a village in Jaisalmer district. I have long sought to contest from here, but have consistently been denied this privilege. Now, for elections to the 16th Lok Sabha, I had let it be known to the party President, also the leader of the NDA, plus the leadership of the Lok Sabha explaining that I shall not be contesting from Darjeeling, as I have already done whatever I could for them in this strategically important region of the country.
I am sure this was all known to state leadership, too. That is why it is a matter of great disappointment that the State and the Central Leadership ignored my request and have chosen one Col. (Retd) Sona Ram as the BJP’s candidate. This is unacceptable. Not for any personal reasons but for the fact that Col. Sona Ram has been a member of the Congress party till now. He has now chosen to leave the Congress party after the recent elections to state assembly, which he contested and lost as a Congress candidate.
I am aggrieved not by the person chosen, which the party has every right to do, but at the manner of surrendering and without even the courtesy of a consultation on the subject with me.
I do wish to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to all members of the NDA, from 1998 to 2004. I have had the honor and the great pleasure of working with them for years as a colleague in Parliament and in the Government.
I do also wish to express my great gratitude to the BJP and lakhs of its members, from whom, too, I have received great courtesy and support in all the endeavors that I have been engaged in after all these years. I have no ill-will against anyone in the party from which I now part. I am constrained, however, to observe that I no longer find the BJP as the party I had chosen to join at its inception in 1980. There have been some glorious years of working together; 33 years of strife, struggle, success and also the absence of it
I am particularly grateful to Shri A B Vajpayee and to Shri L K Advani, and many others, with whom I had the honor and great pleasure and privilege of serving as a cabinet minister in various capacities: External Affairs, Defence, Finance and various ministries, including being the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission.
Good Luck to all as we part.