Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader M. Venkaiah Naidu said here on Saturday that the decision of the party’s parliamentary board to expel senior leader Jaswant Singh from the primary membership, should not be misconstrued as ‘intolerance’ towards freedom of expression.
The painful decision had to be taken as Mr. Jaswant Singh’s book was against the BJP’s core philosophy and expulsion was the disciplinary action against the member for having deviated from the party’s ideology and line of thinking.
Addressing media persons, Mr. Naidu said that as a senior leader one could express his/her views or dissent within the party forum, but not outside. The book had views that were unacceptable to the BJP, whether it was about Jinnah, the uncharitable remarks about Sardar Vallabhai Patel and partition or about the ‘insecurity’ among the Muslims. The BJP believed that people, irrespective of their religion, were equal and religion was a personal way of life.
Mr. Singh’s book was banned in Gujarat respecting the sentiments of people and leaders cutting across party lines including the Congress, he said, reminding that the Congress itself had banned many books.
He said there was no pressure from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to expel Mr. Jaswant Singh. Asked about Jaswant Singh’s remarks that L.K. Advani was aware of the Kandahar episode when three terrorists were released by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in exchange for passengers of the hijacked plane, Mr. Naidu countered why Mr. Singh had kept quiet all these years. Such issues did not have any relevance now and what Mr. Singh said did not carry conviction as he was no longer in the party.