The woes of senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh on alleged mole in PMO issue continued on Wednesday with the United States distancing itself from a purported letter in which a former Senator was said to have mentioned about the informer and Congress tabling a breach of privilege notice against the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.
A senior American administration official termed as a 'fradulent, poor imitiation' of official US government correspondence the letter said to have been written by Senator Thomas Graham to former American Ambassador to India Harry Barnes on the 'mole' in the PMO during PV Narasimha Rao's tenure allegedly leaking nuclear secrets.
"The letter does not contain a shred of truth. The US was not asked to examine it (the letter) before its publication in newspapers. Had we been asked, we would have pointed out that it is fraudulent, poor imitation of official US government correspondence," the administration official said.
Singh had quoted profusely from the purported missive to buttress his point that nuclear secrets were leaked from the PMO in the mid-nineties.
In the Rajya Sabha, Congress moved a breach of privilege motion against Jaswant Singh, accusing him of misleading the House.
Congress member V Narayanasamy gave the privilege notice and sought to raise it in the House, that led to noisy scenes. But Chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat disallowed Narayanasamy from raising it saying until he examined the notice he would not permit him to do so.
Narayanasamy later told reporters that Jaswant Singh has been telling for more than a week that he knows the mole was a civil servant and that he went and settled abroad.
However, now he has gone blank and is saying he did not mention any mole, which meant he has been misleading the nation.
The CPI(M) accused Jaswant Singh with 'high level of irresponsibility' by not disclosing the name of the American 'mole' mentioned in his book and for reasons of his silence on the issue for years.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury told reporters that being a member of the Union Cabinet, Singh was a public servant and was "obliged to divulge information under the law to the government and the country". There were several provisions in the Criminal Procedure Code as well as the Indian Penal Code in this regard, he added.
On the other hand, an increasingly defensive BJP sought to defend Jaswant Singh from Congress party's attack on him, insisting that books did not warrant a breach of privilege notice.
Party leader Vijay Kumar Malhotra told reporters that Singh's A Call to Honour contained his 'personal views' and "books cannot become a basis for a privilege motion".
The BJP leader parried questions whether the former External Affairs Minister risked losing his position as the Opposition leader in the House for pushing the party to an "awkward position" on the US mole.
"... There is no immediate move. But I can't say anything even about myself that whether I would remain the deputy Leader (of the Opposition) in the Lok Sabha five years from now," Malhotra said.