Jaswant case was open and shut: BJP, RSS leaders

By Arun Anand, IANS,

New Delhi : The expulsion of senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Jaswant Singh from the party Wednesday following his praise of Pakistan’s founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah was due to an “open and shut” case that had nothing to do with the power struggle within the party, senior BJP and RSS leaders maintained.

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A senior BJP leader and a member of the party’s core group said: “It was an open and shut case. Jaswant Singh wrote a book a in which he praised Jinnah and criticised Sardar (Vallabhbhai) Patel. There was general consensus on this issue within the party that if Jaswant goes ahead with his book, he will have to go.

“The RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological mentor of the BJP) had made no direct reference to this book but indications were given to the BJP top leadership that they would have to act on the issue of Jaswant Singh’s stand on Jinnah and Patel.”

The leader added: “No questions were raised as the party leadership agreed with the RSS leadership on this issue. Hence action was taken. It is not at all linked to the ongoing tussle within the party.”

Speaking a couple of hours after the expulsion, the leader said television channels were blowing up the issue. He discounted the “conspiracy theories” doing the rounds, that Jaswant Singh’s expulsion was a fallout of a power struggle within the BJP to capture the party apparatus. Nor was it a knee-jerk reaction by the struggling party president Rajnath Singh, he held.

A senior RSS functionary, who is a member of the coordination team with the BJP on crucial issues, told IANS: “Nothing much should be read into this. In fact after the party’s defeat in 2004 polls, RSS has been emphasising importance of ideology in guiding BJP.

“It was diluted to a large extent while NDA (National Democratic Alliance, the BJP-led coalition that ruled country 1998-2004) was in power, a lot of compromises were made to maintain the coalition. But now no more of that.”

While addressing a meeting of top RSS brass in 2004 at a farm house near Delhi in the aftermath of the 2004 poll debacle, then RSS chief K.S. Sudershan had made it clear that ideology would have to take centrestage in BJP.

Current RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is only reemphasizing that, said a senior pracharak (full time worker) in one of the front organisations of RSS.

“We hope that by this time the message is loud and clear to party workers and leaders that no compromises will be made on fundamentals of ideology and individuals do not matter. If someone slips, he or she will have to pay the price,” he added.

“However, the RSS has taken a cautious stand of only enforcing this rule in principle and the modalities of implementing this have to be worked out on case to case basis by the BJP,” another senior RSS functionary who has worked closely with BJP top brass in the past told IANS.