The Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday expelled Jaswant Singh, its veteran leader and an MP. A meeting of the Parliamentary Board in Shimla unanimously decided to remove the former Union Minister from the primary membership. The decision came even as a three-day ‘Chinthan Baithak’ or brainstorming session of the party started at the hill station.
The decision is being read in the party as a stern message of zero tolerance to ideological deviation and indiscipline. These were among several messages clearly conveyed only on Tuesday to the BJP by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat in a television interview.
It was stated that initially the party leadership was of the view that Mr. Jaswant Singh should be merely stripped of his membership of the Parliamentary Board. But tempers ran high among senior leaders. They viewed his praise of Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah, and his adverse comments on India’s first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, as ideological heresy. They called for the sternest action.
L.K. Advani, also a member of the Parliamentary Board, was himself held guilty of ideological deviation in 2005 when he praised Jinnah during a visit to Pakistan and was forced to exit as party president. On Wednesday, however, he concurred with the decision to expel Mr. Jaswant Singh, informed party sources indicated.
BJP president Rajnath Singh conveyed the decision to mediapersons outside the Peterhoff state guest house and hotel, the venue of the brainstorming conclave.
Mr. Rajnath Singh noted that he had issued a statement in Delhi on Tuesday disassociating the party from the contents of Mr. Jaswant Singh’s new book Jinnah: India-Partition Independence that was released on Monday. The Board, he said, “decided to end his primary membership. 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.” Mr. Rajnath Singh said he had conveyed the decision to Mr. Jaswant Singh.
Party sources said the BJP would formally inform Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar of the expulsion. He would, under the rules, now be an unattached MP representing the Darjeeling constituency. The Speaker is expected to be told that the BJP wishes to revoke his nomination as a member and chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.
Seemingly responding to Mr. Jaswant Singh, who has charged the party with jumping procedures as he was not issued a show cause notice, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said here that the Parliamentary Board had the authority to take “immediate decisions on urgent matters” without issuing show cause notices. “This is the decision of the Board, which means that the party will not compromise with ideology and discipline is paramount.”
There has been a series of expulsions of BJP leaders over the years, including of Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti, Babulal Marandi and Shankersinh Waghela.