M A I N   N E W S

Jaswant fails to name mole in RS
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 1
Senior BJP leader and former Union Minister Jaswant Singh’s failure to reveal the identity of an alleged US ‘mole’ in the PMO during the tenure of former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao has not only disappointed the BJP, but has also provided lethal ammunition to the ruling UPA alliance.

An indication of what is in store for the BJP came from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who launched a frontal attack on the former External Affairs Minister saying that his statement proved how low the top BJP leadership could stoop to.

Talking to reporters after Mr Jaswant Singh’s statement in the upper house, the Prime Minister said it was regrettable that a person, who was Minister of Defence, Finance and External Affairs, should behave in this manner.

Asked if the government planned any action against the senior BJP leader either for his failure to name the mole and thus misleading the House and for his utterances, the Prime Minister said: “It is for the country to judge to what level top BJP leadership could stoop”.

He said former US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott had written in his book that Mr Jaswant Singh had given assurance to him to “deliver India on CTBT” (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty) by a definite date.

Dr Manmohan Singh also recalled that the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had at that time said India was ready to convert the unilateral moratorium (on nuclear tests) into a de jure moratorium.

While the Prime Minister gave expression to the feeling of his UPA colleagues, it is being discussed whether Mr Jaswant Singh’s failure or “refusal” to reveal the identity of US ‘mole’ could become the basis for a breach of privilege or the issue could be referred to the House Ethics Committee.

A senior UPA leader said a move against the BJP leader in the House was “technically feasible”, but “whether it is politically advisable” was still not clear. “The pros and cons of the issue would have to be analysed and studied thoroughly before a decision is taken”, he said.

The BJP had anticipated the fallout of the ‘mole’ issue and leaders had discussed that at length. Some senior leaders had cautioned the party leadership to distance from defending “individual ventures” like that of Mr Jaswant Singh.

A senior BJP leader confirmed about the discussion that the party had over the issue and said Mr Jaswant Singh’s book, “A Call to Honour”, had taken wind out of the party’s campaign against the UPA government on issues like the price rise, internal security and Mumbai blasts.

Former Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi, in fact, had expressed reservations about the party backing Mr Jaswant Singh at a time when it had a golden opportunity to corner the UPA on its failure to arrest inflation and rise in prices. He had landed the party in an embarrassing situation by making the ‘mole’ allegations without substantial proof.

Earlier, Mr Jaswant Singh had a gruelling time in the Rajya Sabha when he was grilled by many MPs, including the Prime Minister, who posed probing questions at him.

Dr Manmohan Singh and many UPA members demanded that the BJP leader name the mole, who had allegedly leaked the nuclear secrets to the US in the mid-nineties, which he failed to do.

The UPA MPs, particularly the Congress members, were in no mood to listen to the former External Affairs Minister’s efforts to turn the table on the ruling benches by giving details of the country’s nuclear programme and follies of the previous Congress governments on the issue.

“Who is the mole and why are you shying away from that”, the Prime Minister asked Mr Jaswant Singh pointedly during the discussion on a notice given by Congress MP V. Narayanswamy that was marked by noisy exchanges between the two sides, resulting in two brief adjournments.

“You are levelling serious charges that we are being snooped. We are being snooped. Even the present PMO has a mole. If you have any evidence, you should name that person. If you do not name, let the country draw its own conclusion”, Dr Manmohan Singh said.

At the end of the three-hour discussion, the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha did not come out with any name of the alleged US ‘mole’. 




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