M A I N   N E W S

Privilege notice against Jaswant
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 2
Despite his party coming to his defence, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Jaswant Singh’s book ‘A Call to Honour’ is turning out to be his Waterloo as the Left, along with the Samajwadi Party and the Congress, today moved a privilege motion against him in the Upper House for not revealing the identity of a ‘mole’ in the PMO.

Though the motion is under consideration of Rajya Sabha Chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, there are strong indications that the motion may be accepted, sources said.

Even as a decision on the motion is awaited, the Rajya Sabha witnessed a furore over the mole-in-PMO issue as the Congress sought to keep the pot boiling on the issue by raising a privilege motion against Mr Singh.

Soon after the question hour, Congress member V. Narayanasamy, along with several of his party colleagues, was up on his feet waving newspapers accusing Mr Singh of breach of privilege over the issue.

But Mr Shekhawat disallowed Mr Narayanasamy from raising it saying until he had not examined the notice; he would not permit him to do so.

“I am examining it, the matter is under examination. Till I take any decision, you will not be allowed to speak. Showing newspapers is also a breach of privilege of the House,” Mr Shekhawat said.

It resulted in angry protests from the Congress members and in the din, senior Congress MP Santosh Bargodia wanted to know whether the letter given by Mr Singh in the course of his statement yesterday in the House was authenticated.

The Chairman said he would look into papers and then give his ruling.

It is learnt that the ruling UPA allies, along with the Left parties, are trying to find out other ways to corner Mr Singh in Parliament so that the BJP could be kept under constant pressure.

Meanwhile, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi said that several notices for a discussion on Mr Singh’s journey to Kandahar in 1999, along with three terrorists and the NDA’s offer of ransom to ensure release of the passengers of the hijacked 1c-814 under various rules, had been received and probably, a discussion would take place tomorrow.

In Mr Singh’s defence, the BJP, which has been seriously hurt by Mr Singh’s book as its entire strategy of going aggressive against the ruling UPA coalition got derailed, said that discussions on content of books had never been held in Parliament.

Sources said that Mr Jaswant Singh spoke to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and complained to him that the party was not coming to his defence and he was being left in lurch.

Sources further said that Mr Vajpayee impressed upon the BJP leadership that the party would be sending a wrong signal and the party must come out in Jaswant’s defence.

Following Mr Vajpayee’s direction, the BJP came out with a weak defence of Mr Singh.

Briefing newspersons, BJP Parliamentary party spokesman Vijay Kumar Malhotra said “If such a privilege motion is allowed, then the BJP would demand discussions on the Mitrokhin papers and on several other books, including the one written by former Prime Minister V P Singh, which mentions the Bofors deal.”

Maintaining pressure on the issue, Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natrajan said, “It is a serious matter involving national security as a person no less than a former External Affairs Minister made an irresponsible allegation in the Rajya Sabha yesterday against the security of the country endangering the democratic system”.

Wondering under whose pressure was Mr Singh holding back from naming the person he had in mind, Ms Natranjan demanded that both Mr Singh as well as the BJP apologise to the nation for having misled Parliament on the basis of a forged letter as Mr Harry Barnes, who was claimed to have written the letter in which a US mole in the PMO was mentioned, had denied having anything to do with the former External Affairs Minister’s claim.

Earlier, CPM Politbureau Member Sitaram Yechury cited certain portions from the book, which the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha had read out during his speech in the House, to stress his point that Mr Singh had failed to substantiate his own statements.

“As a minister in the then government, Mr Singh is obliged to divulge the information, which he claimed to have had, in the larger national interest. This, he has not done, committing a violation of at least 14 provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr PC), which is an offence...” Mr Yechury said, citing certain Supreme Court rulings in this regard.


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