Shimla : “Expel Jaswant Singh from primary membership of the party”. With these words, L.K. Advani sealed the fate of the veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader as the party’s parliamentary board sat Wednesday ahead of the ‘chintan baithak’ to decide on his alleged ideological transgressions.
When some party leaders wondered aloud at the closed-door session if it was indeed the right course of action to take against someone who had been with the party since its inception and if the decision would not haunt him later (“Aap pe to yeh chipkega”), Advani said with finality that he was not worried, according to a party leader present at the fateful meeting.
This was in spite of the fact that the two leaders were known to be close and Jaswant Singh always had high personal regard for Advani, addressed him always by his first name “Lalji” and supported his prime ministerial bid before the elections.
The two seem to have had a fallout after Jaswant Singh joined Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie in seeking an internal debate to find out reasons for the poll debacle, fix responsibility and chart out the party’s future ideological direction.
Jaswant Singh has earned the party’s ire with his views on Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah in his book “Jinnah: India – Partition – Independence”, released two days ago.
Ironically, Advani’s website carried his statement praising Jinnah’s professed commitment to secularism and his laudatory speeches during his visit to Pakistan four years ago. It was this remark that earned the ire of the party hardliners then and Advani was forced to offer to resign as party president before saying he had been “persuaded” to rescind the decision.
Advani, in his autobiography “My Country, My Life”, also defended his views on Jinnah and said criticism of his views at that time were unfounded.