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Cornered, Jaswant plays victim

india Updated: Aug 01, 2006 01:36 IST
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“WHAT is IT you want to do to me? Peel off my skin,” asked a downcast Jaswant Singh on Monday. “Go ahead and do it,” he added, even as he evaded journalists a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh denied his claim that he had named the mole in his letter to him. “I will say everything in Rajya Sabha,” he said.

The BJP leader wrote to the PM again, countering his accusation that he had withheld information from former PM A.B. Vajpayee. Earlier in the day, Rajya Sabha members demanded that Jaswant name the mole. In the resulting chaos, the House was adjourned for 45 minutes. Jaswant has the unenviable task of facing angry House members again on Tuesday.

Risking the charge that he's now looking for an escape route, Jaswant came close to admitting to BJP leaders that he had no definite name of the alleged mole in the Narasimah Rao PMO. But he maintained he had “some clues” as to the mole’s identity. He also volunteered to share all he knew about the mole.

PTI has reported that Jaswant claimed his views on the mole were based on a “hunch”. Stung by the criticism of the Opposition and misgivings within the BJP, Jaswant seemed ready to play the victim. He said he had been condemned by the media, which he believed had not read what he had written in his book, A Call to Honour, correctly.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.R. Dasmunsi later told reporters the issue is likely to be taken up on Tuesday. Congress sources said moves are on for a discussion on the Kandahar issue in Lok Sabha.

Senior BJP leaders, who spoke to Jaswant, said he wasn’t claiming to know the mole — though a few days ago, he had told the media he had given enough clues about it's identity. Party sources said he might disclose the identity of the US diplomat who wrote the letter, and the US senator to whom it was addressed. An aide of the senior BJP leader said he (Jaswant) was upset the PM had dismissed the document he'd sent him but at the same time faulted him for not taking up the matter with Vajpayee.

Meanwhile, BJP's V.K. Malhotra termed as “inappropriate” the PMO's briefing on Sunday on Jaswant's letter to the PM.

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