Home India Politics Vice presidential hopefull Jaswant Singh comes full circle

Vice presidential hopefull Jaswant Singh comes full circle


New Delhi : The Bharatiya Janata Party, which had once expelled Jaswant Singh for his laudatory views on Pakistan’s founder, Monday managed to build consensus on him as the National Democratic Alliance candidate for the Aug 7 vice prersidential poll.

Jaswant Singh, who represents Darjeeling constituency in West Bengal has seen many ups and downs during his career that began with a brief stint in the army and saw him heading the external affairs, defence and finance ministries at different points in time and also serving as the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission.

Jaswant Singh will be taking on ruling United Progressive Alliance candidate and incumbent Hamid Ansari in the vice presidential poll.

He also had a brief stint with the army. According to his website, Jaswant Singh joined the army in 1957 and quit in 1966 “to join politics”.

He entered the Rajya Sabha in 1980, and was for the first time elected to Lok Sabha from Jodhpur, Rajasthan.

He served as finance minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s first short-lived government, which lasted just from May 16, 1996, to June 1, 1996.

Singh, along with Pramod Mahajan was in the trusted inner circele of Vajpayee and was always seen besides him during the 13-day government.

When the BJP government came back after two years, he became the external affairs minister, serving from Dec 5, 1998 until July 1, 2002. From July 2002, till the BJP-led government lost in 2004, he was the finance minister.

Singh also had his share of controversies, even resulting in his being thrown out of the party.

His praise for Pakistan’s founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah in his book “Jinnah – India, Partition, Independence” invited the party’s ire, and he was expelled from primary membership of BJP in August 2009.

His expulsion was announced during the party’s special meeting in Shimla, making it a national spectacle.

He kicked up a controversy when he refused to vacate the post of chairman of the parliament’s public accounts committee (PAC), which he had taken up as a BJP member. Singh stepped down only in December 2009, three months before his tenure as head of the PAC ended.

However, Singh was taken back into the party in June 2010 – after a period of nine months.

Singh was leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha in 2009, when he accepted the offer from local pro-Gorkhaland parties of Darjeeling and contested the Lok Sabha poll from there. He won.

Singh has authored 12 books and is currently working on a biography of C. Rajagopalachari, the first Indian to serve as governor general, after which he served as chief minister as chief minister of Madras, as Tamil Nadu was then known.