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BJP expels Jaswant Singh from party

CNN-IBN
Aug 20, 2009 at 07:26am IST

Shimla: Senior leader Jaswant Singh has been sacked by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for writing a book praising Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Jaswant Singh, who is the party MP from Darjeeling, was sacked on Wednesday at the party's chintan baithak being held in Shimla with BJP President Rajnath Singh announcing that the 71-year-old leader has been removed as the primary member of the party.

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"I called him yesterday to inform him not to come to for chintan baithak but he had left for Shimla," Rajnath said.

"I had already told the media yesterday that party completely dissociates itself with the views of Jaswant Singh. Today I informed Jaswant Singh not to attend chintan baithak. This was raised in the Parliamentary Board today and it was decided that Jaswant Singh be expelled from the party. He is no longer a member in any forum of the BJP," the BJP President said.

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Jaswant arrived in Shimla on Tuesday but stayed at the Oberoi Group's Hotel Cecil whereas senior party leaders, including Rajnath and Leader of Opposition LK Advani have been staying at the state guest house Peterhoff.

However, he was not attending the three-day chintan baithak.

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Jaswant, a former external affairs, defence and finance minister, has been criticised by senior BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders for heaping praise on Pakistan’s founder in his book Jinnah - India, Partition, Independence.

Many party leaders including Rajnath Singh have already said that views in book are Jaswant's personal views and not that of party.

Jaswant on Sunday in an interview to CNN-IBN’s Devil’s Advocate had claimed that Jinnah was not a Hindu basher.

“Wrong, totally wrong. That certainly he was not. His principal disagreement was with the Congress party. Repeatedly he says and he says this even in his last statements to the press and to the constituent Assembly of Pakistan,” Jaswant had replied when asked by Karan Thapar if he agreed with the view that Jinnah hated Hindus and that he was a Hindu basher.

In the interview Jaswant also blamed both Jawaharlal Nehru and Jinnah for the Partition of India in 1947.

He also said that Mahatma Gandhi and Jinnah both failed India.

Reacting to Jaswant's sacking senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader Seshadri Chari said that the "Sangh does not take decisions about the BJP although the Sangh had reservations about Jaswant Singh's comments".

Chari said that BJP takes collective decision but added that the party could also have given Jaswant more time before expelling him for the party.

"His opinion could not be accepted by the party in totality. If you want to rewrite history, interpret it in your own way, then you should be ready to face the consequences. After all he held important posts in the party. But I also think that the party should have given him some time before deciding on his case," said Chari.

BJP leader Arun Shourie who has been critical of party leadership for Lok Sabha election debacle asked Advani to explain his views on Jinnah.

"Advani should explain his view on Jinnah now. People who are big have gone for chintan baithak. We have to see next steps of all these big personalities," said Shourie.

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