Has former external affairs minister Jaswant Singh misrepresented facts in his controversial book or misled Parliament on the identity of the American addressee of the 1995 letter, which is at the root of his charge that a mole compromised P.V. Narasimha Rao’s PMO?
On pages 125-126 of A Call To Honour, Jaswant claims that the letter was addressed to a US senator in 1995. But the name he disclosed in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday was that of a career US diplomat who was ambassador to India from 1981 to ’84 but had never been a member of the Senate.
In fact, in 1995, the diplomat, Harry Barnes, was working for a think tank, the Carter Center, as director, Conflict Resolution and Human Rights Programs. And the person who shared the information (on Rao’s plans for a nuclear test that never happened) with Barnes was Thomas W. Graham, known for his association with the Rockefeller Foundation.
In fact, after the House debate that saw Jaswant stonewall queries on the mole's identity, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told HT that the Barnes-Graham duo worked for think tanks and "weren't part of the US administration" during the period in question.
Even sources in the US embassy found the BJP leader's version a lot weird. The Clinton administration was pro-active on the non-proliferation front and no diplomat working for it needed a third person to transmit the kind of information that was allegedly leaked.
Unable to confirm whether Graham worked in any of the US Missions here at that time, the sources said the language used in the letter did not match the US foreign policy lingo.
A quick collation of Jaswant's recent statements, in fact, brings out his proclivity to draw red herrings rather than come clean on the issue that has raised myriad queries on national security.
A newspaper report on Tuesday quoted him as saying that he "obfuscated facts (about the addressee)" to protect the identity of the Indian official.
From this claim itself, it is evident that the BJP veteran is aware of the mole's identity but has chosen to hold it back from the government and Parliament.
All that he told the House was: "The note I sent to the PM is explicit and implicit. It is very clear who the person is. If the government doesn't want to act, it is up to them."
All this presupposes that the letter Jaswant tabled in the House is genuine and not an act of forgery -- not at least to his knowledge.