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Booked, expunged

The decision to expel the senior BJP leader was taken at the Parliamentary Board of the party during the opening session of the three-day brainstorming session of the top leaders in Shimla. Listen to podcastaudio

india Updated: Aug 25, 2009 15:27 IST

It was 9 in the morning. Jaswant Singh was getting ready for the BJP’s chintan baithak (introspection meet) when he got a call from party president Rajnath Singh asking him to stay away for a while. “Tempers are running high,” he was told.

Rajnath Singh called back three hours later. This time, the message was terse: “The parliamentary board (BJP’s highest decision making body) has expelled you from the party.”

The BJP had sacked him ostensibly over a book that had rattled the party — some leaders more than others — but actually to salvage its Hindutva image and quell rising internal dissent.

Jaswant Singh was shocked. He was fired by the board of which he was a member, snapping a 30-year-old association with the party he had helped found. And, heartbreaking for him, over the phone.

“I was once depicted as Hanuman but today made out as a Ravan for writing a book,” he said, addressing a news conference later. “The day we start questioning thought, it (would be a) dark day for India.”

Action against Jaswant Singh was seen in line with the strong message from the head of BJP’s parent body, the RSS. Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat said on Tuesday there should be an early end to the infighting in the party.

Jaswant Singh’s book, Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence, upset the Sangh and the BJP not for its attempt to give the founder of Pakistan a flattering makeover, but for showing Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in a poor light in the process.