Rajnath skirts Jaswant issue in Shimla


Shimla : Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh, who arrived here Tuesday evening for the party’s brainstorming session, refused to speak further on senior leader Jaswant Singh’s praise for Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah in his latest book.

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Rajnath Singh reached here for his party’s three-day chintan baithak (brainstorming session) beginning Wednesday, and only said “no comments” when reporters sought his reaction to the controversy sparked off by Jaswant Singh’s views in his book.

Earlier in Delhi, Singh issued a statement dissociating the party completely from Jaswant Singh’s observations in his book and in a television interview that Jinnah was not responsible for India’s partition in 1947.

Rajnath Singh also refused to talk about the agenda of the party’s chintan baithak, saying: “This is party’s internal matter.” He said various things would be discussed but declined to give the details.

A senior party leader said the meeting would discuss the causes that led to the party’s recent defeat in the parliamentary elections and its strategy for the forthcoming assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra.

Other issues like the defiance shown by former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje after she was asked to quit as leader of opposition could also echo at the session, the leader said.

Over 25 senior party leaders, including members of the BJP parliamentary board and chief ministers Narendra Modi (Gujarat), Raman Singh (Chhattisgarh), Ramesh Pokhriyal (Uttarakhand) and B.S. Yeddyurappa (Karnataka), are expected to participate in the three-day introspection exercise.