Shimla: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday expelled senior leader Jaswant Singh from the party for praising Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah in his new book, "Jinnah - India, Partition, Independence".
The BJP top brass took the decision to sack Jaswant Singh – a Lok Sabha member and a former Union Minister – at the party’s chintan baithak (introspection meeting) being held in Shimla.
BJP president Rajnath Singh told reporters here that the party`s parliamentary board decided to expel the former external affairs minister from the primary membership of the party.
"I had issued a statement yesterday that the party fully dissociates itself from the contents of the book. Today I put up the matter before the parliamentary board which decided to end his primary membership,” Rajnath said.
"So he has been expelled. From now onwards he will not be a member of any body of the party or be an office bearer," he stated further on the expulsion of the 71-year-old party veteran.
Rajnath said he had yesterday told Jaswant Singh not to come to Shimla for participating in the `chintan baithak`.
Rajnath added that since Jaswant Singh had already left for Shimla, he called him up today again asking him not to attend the opening session of the three-day meeting, which began here today.
‘Not party’s ideology’
Rajnath had yesterday distanced the BJP from Jaswant Singh’s remarks on Jinnah in his new book, "Jinnah - India, Partition, Independence", saying that his views were against party’s ideology.
Stating that the book did not represent the views of the party, Rajnath said Jinnah’s role in partition was well known and “we cannot wish way this painful part of our history”.
Rajnath also took exception to Jaswant’s comments on Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and said that he played an important role in the unification of India.
In his book, Jaswant recalls the events leading to partition as well as the "epic journey of Jinnah from being the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity, the liberal constitutionalist and Indian nationalist to the Quaid-e-Azam of Pakistan”.
In the book, Jaswant remarked that Jinnah did not win Pakistan as Congress leaders Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel "conceded" Pakistan to the Quaid-e-Azam with the British acting as an ever helpful midwife.
When asked if RSS agreed with Singh`s view that Jinnah has been "demonised" in India, RSS leader Ram Madhav said, "I have only read excerpts of the book. But I am constrained to say that it is far from the truth to state that Jinnah was not responsible for partition."
Jaswant Singh had however said that his book was purely an academic exercise and not an attempt to malign or glorify anyone.
Jaswant Singh has been having an uneasy relationship with the party leadership ever since the Lok Sabha elections on which he had circulated a note demanding thorough discussion on the debacle.
Jaswant Singh, who had held the posts of Finance, Defence and External Affairs under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was virtually declared a persona non grata when the entire BJP top brass and other leaders kept away from the function on Monday in the capital for the release of his book.
Singh, who had served with the Territorial Army, was elected to Lok Sabha from Darjeeling in West Bengal with the support of Gorkhaland outfit.
That things were not well with Jaswant Singh was clear this morning when he did not stir out of his hotel even after the brainstorming session began in Peterhof, the venue of the session. His aides kept saying that he was not well and was resting.
Rajnath Singh took a break from the brainstorming session to come and brief the media on the expulsion decision.
The party was averse to Jinnah and even LK Advani had to backtrack on his comments about the founder of Pakistan after a visit to that country in 2005.
He was made to step down as BJP president and the party adopted a resolution condemning Jinnah`s role in the Partition.
In the aftermath of the Lok Sabha debacle, Jaswant Singh had criticised Advani`s appointment of parliamentary office bearers and called for a link between "performance and rewards". He was then considered to be a dissident along with leaders like Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie.
However, the party sought to delink him from the other dissidents by nominating him the chairman of the prestigious Public Accounts Committee of Parliament.