Jaswant to follow in Advani?s Jinnah yatra | india | Hindustan Times
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Jaswant to follow in Advani?s Jinnah yatra

MOHAMMAD ALI Jinnah may still haunt the BJP even after L.K.Advani's inglorious exit as party chief. After the RSS raised a ruckus over Advani remarks praising the Qaid-e-Azam's secular credentials in Karachi, few in the BJP would have dared a brush with Jinnah. But not Jaswant Singh, who is visiting the mausoleum of Pakistan's founder during a pilgrimage to that country.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2006 23:30 IST

MOHAMMAD ALI Jinnah may still haunt the BJP even after L.K.Advani's inglorious exit as party chief. After the RSS raised a ruckus over Advani remarks praising the Qaid-e-Azam's secular credentials in Karachi, few in the BJP would have dared a brush with Jinnah. But not Jaswant Singh, who is visiting the mausoleum of Pakistan's founder during a pilgrimage to that country.

Significantly, Singh's provocative decision comes amid speculation within the BJP that the RSS bosses want to ease him out as the leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha. More close to Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Advani, Jaswant Singh does not have strong ties with the RSS.

The former external affairs minister is currently writing a political biography of Jinnah. Asked if he too saw Jinnah as a secular leader, Singh avoided comment, saying he would answer it at an “appropriate time”. But he said it was not desirable that “we sit back shutting the doors and windows of our thoughts and mind.”

Initially, Singh had no intention of visiting the mausoleum during his tour with some Hindu and Muslim pilgrims to some religious shrines in Pakistan beginning January 30. But he found himself in an embarrassing position after Pakistani authorities suggested that he visit the memorial to pay respect to the Qaid-e-Azam.

“As a guest of Pakistan, I could not be disrespectful to the hosts by refusing to visit the mausoleum as they suggested,” he confessed. He said he would be going there in the same manner as foreign visitors to Delhi visit Mahatma Gandhi's samadhi.

Singh has dismissed any possibility of a controversy arising out of the issue. Asserting that this was not a “political” but a personal visit, he claimed that the BJP leadership has all along been aware of his plans to go on a pilgrimage to the Hinglaj Mata shrine in Baluchistan.