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Sushma fails, Jaswant scores

india Updated: Sep 02, 2009 01:05 IST
Shekhar Iyer
Shekhar Iyer
Hindustan Times
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The BJP may reconcile itself to expelled leader Jaswant Singh continuing as the chief of Parliament’s public accounts committee (PAC) until his term gets over in July next year.

The party’s newly dawned wisdom stems from the fact that Sushma Swaraj’s — BJP’s deputy leader in Lok Sabha — mission to persuade Singh to quit did not bear fruit.

Also, the idea of the party turning to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar to remove Singh is easier said than done. She has already indicated that Singh cannot be removed simply because the BJP has expelled him.

Then, why did Swaraj undertake the mission to persuade Singh?

A BJP leader said: “After all, he (Jaswant Singh) had said after his expulsion that he would have quit the party if it had told him… So we thought he would take the hint and live up to his claim that he is a great stickler for propriety.”

There is, however, a contrary view in the party. “What’s the big deal if he continues for a year?” asked a senior party functionary.

Another BJP leader, who has functioned on PACs for many years, said: “Assuming Singh resigns and there is a fresh election from among the Lok Sabha MPs, there is no guarantee that a BJP man will get elected.”

The 22-member PAC is among the four panels of Parliament where the members of the House elect their representatives.

Swaraj on Monday had called on Singh and asked him to resign. But Singh refused, saying he was an elected member.

Scotching speculation that he may rejoin the party, Singh on Tuesday said: “You don’t have to worry about it. The roads are closed.”

Adding, “I am not (going to resign). This cannot be a decision that the party can take because the determination of the post and the decision is that of the Lok Sabha Speaker and not of a political party.”

Reacting to Singh’s statement, a party leader said: “After all, Singh’s battle with other BJP leaders started with his quest for a room in Parliament since he was no longer Leader of Opposition of Rajya Sabha.”

Show of unity

For the first time since the crisis in BJP over infighting, senior party leaders Arun Jaitely, Sushma Swaraj and Venakiah Naidu met at BJP chief Rajnath Singh’s residence to discuss the preparations for the upcoming polls in Maharastra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh.