Jaswant Singh to give stature to VP poll contest
New Delhi: NDA could not have got a candidate for Vice Presidential poll with more gravitas than Jaswant Singh, a former army officer who has headed Finance, Defence and External Affairs Ministries, authored books and even served as Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.
Even those who do not support the BJP or the NDA agree that by fielding Singh against UPA Vice presidential nominee Hamid Ansari the opposition has given stature and some seriousness to the contest.
74-year-old Singh was a Major in the Indian army when he quit the services in the 1960s to join politics. He was at his peak during the NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. At different times during this six year rule (1998-2004), he headed the Finance, Defence and External Affairs Ministries.
Singh's political career has seen several ups and downs and he is not new to controversies. During the Air India hijack in December, 1999, Singh was criticised for accompanying the terrorists to Kandahar in Afghanistan to bring back the hijacked passengers.
A trusted associate of Vajpayee, he was always beside the Prime Minister during the 13-day government in 1996. He was one of the most important people in Vajpayee's team along with Brajesh Mishra and Pramod Mahajan.
Later he served as the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha till 2009 when he accepted an offer from local parties fighting for Gorkhaland to contest from Darjeeling. He is presently MP from the hill district.
Singh was expelled from the BJP in August 2009 after he praised Pakistan-founder M A Jinnah in his book- "Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence". However, party president Nitin Gadkari brought him back to the party in 2010.