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BJP squirms, but Jaswant insists on speaking his mind

Jaswant Singh is issuing statements to show he’s free to speak even if the BJP may think otherwise, reports Shekhar Iyer.
Hindustan Times | By Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 08, 2008 12:45 AM IST

Undeterred by uneasiness in the BJP over his remark on parleys with the Samajwadi Party, Jaswant Singh is asserting his role as Leader of Oppostion in Rajya Sabha. He is issuing statements to show he’s free to speak even if the BJP may think otherwise.

Even as BJP leaders have been wondering how to convey to him that he should show restraint, Singh sent a statement to the party headquarters on key developments on Monday to be released to the media, making it clear he would be more active than before.

Party leaders are upset he admitted in L.K. Advani’s presence last Saturday that he carried an NDA plan to Jayalalithaa to topple the UPA government in return for backing Bhairon Singh Shekhawat as President — confirming SP’s Amar Singh’s charge that the saffron party had wooed his party. Singh’s admission knocked the bottom off the BJP’s stand that Amar Singh’s remark was a cover up for his party’s fresh nexus with the Congress.

In his statement, Singh sought the PM’s views on the exit of J&K CM Ghulam Nabi Azad, the grenade blast in front of the Srinagar assembly and the attack on the Indian mission in Kabul.

BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy had a tough time defending Singh on his parleys with the SP last year and again days ago. At a press conference, he sought to justify the BJP's bid to take the high moral ground, dented by Singh’s admission that the party was willing to do business with the SP last year. He held there was no deal.

PM’s response to Advani
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rebuffed Advani’s suggestion that the government seek a vote confidence in case of withdrawal of support by the Left, saying: “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. We are not afraid of facing Parliament. We will abide by all parliamentary norms that should apply in the great democracy that India is. Mr Advani need not give any advice to us on this.”

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