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Jaswant may lose post of Leader of Oppn in RS
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 3
Senior BJP leader and former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh’s troubles appear to know no end as there are reports of a move to remove him from the post of the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

A section of BJP leaders is strongly pleading with the party high command that a punishment must be meted out to Mr Jaswant Singh for derailing the party from its set agenda and turning it into a butt of joke and an object of ridicule, sources said.

This section has even suggested the name of former Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi as Mr Jaswant Singh’s replacement for the post.

The RSS, which has never backed Mr Jaswant Singh and was instrumental in his transfer from the Ministry of External Affairs during the Vajpayee regime, is also said to be supporting the above move, the sources said.

There is a deep resentment within the party cadres and leaders, including BJP MPs, over the timing of Mr Jaswant Singh’s book, “A Call to Honour”, which in their assessment has instead of taking the stock of the party up in the eyes of the people, has brought it down.

A senior functionary of the party said his “mole game” had played a spoil sport as we had failed in training our guns at the ruling UPA coalition in the ongoing month-long monsoon session of Parliament.

“We had a host of issues, but now we are trying to defend our leader for which we are ill-equipped”, he said, adding that “two weeks of the session are already over”.

Meanwhile, after the “mole” episode in the Rajya Sabha, the Congress again zeroed in on Mr Jaswant Singh in the Lok Sabha for his role in the Kandahar hijacking crisis and demanded a joint parliamentary committee probe on whether $200 million was paid as ransom for the release of 166 passengers.

Congress MP Madhusudan Mistry raised the issue during zero hour in the Lok Sabha and referred to Mr Jaswant Singh’s revelations in his book on the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane in December, 1999, from Kathmandu.

In the book, Mr Jaswant Singh has contended that the Union Cabinet had then rejected the ransom demanded by the hijackers. In view of this decision, why did Mr Jaswant Singh fly to Kandahar with three terrorists who were freed in exchange for the passengers? Mr Mistry asked.

“What was in the red bag carried by Mr Jaswant Singh?” he said.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.R. Dasmunshi said he would convey the member’s concern to the Home Minister.

The issue was also raised by RJD member Devendra Prasad Yadav, who said the former External Affairs Minister must apologise to the nation for making “irresponsible” statements.

Mr Jaswant Singh had created a sensation by alleging that there was a “mole” in the PMO during the Narasimha Rao’s regime, he said.

The CPI has demanded a ban on his book, if he did not delete the portion dealing with the existence of a “mole”.

“His failure to substantiate his claim has put India in a bad light. India has been publicly dishonoured.

The Indian security agencies have also been accused of total dereliction of duty as they are said to have been unable to identify the mole”, party leader Gurudas Dasgupta said here.

“Government should take action against him for dishonouring the nation. If he does not delete these portions from his book, it should be banned as it is a question of national dignity”, he said, adding that even foreign governments and diplomats have commented on the matter.

The BJP should know “what kind of elements it has in the party who cannot justify their arguments or buttress their claims”.

Though Mr Jaswant Singh is under attack not only from his political opponents but also from his own partymen, he is being backed by his mentor and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the sources said.

Despite simmering resentment and discontent against Mr Jaswant Singh any move to punish him would have to be blessed by Mr Vajpayee, another leader said, adding that this seems to be highly unlikely at this stage.





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