The infighting in the BJP took a crucial turn on Thursday, with the dissidents targeting parliamentary party leader LK Advani directly.
First, they contested his claim that he had been unaware of the terrorists for passengers swap carried out in January 2000 after an Indian Airlines flight was hijacked to Kandahar, Afghanistan. Next, they repeatedly harped on how much better former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee would have handled the current crisis in the party, had he been in charge.
In an interview to the TV channel CNN-IBN, Brajesh Mishra, national security advisor while Vajpayee was PM, confirmed the remarks of expel-led BJP leader Jaswant Singh, who said Advani knew of the decision to release the terrorists. He was present at the meeting of the cabinet committee on security which took it.
“I completely back Brajesh Mishra on Advani,” added former finance minister and BJP rebel, Yashwant Sinha. “The minutes of that meeting should be examined for clarification.”
Mishra stated Vajpayee would have been very hurt by the current situation in the BJP, and would never have summarily expelled Jaswant Singh for merely writing a book on Pakistan founder MA Jinnah which did not square with the party’s ideology. “Not without first asking him to explain. Certainly not,” said Mishra.
“Jaswant Singh was dealt with unfairly,” said Sinha. “This would never have happened under Vajpayee.”
A worried BJP president Rajnath Singh responded by going into a huddle with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.