Former union minister Jaswant Singh appears set to return to the BJP, nine months after he was summarily expelled for praising Pakistan founder M A Jinnah in his book. BJP sources said that party leadership is working out a formula for his return and a decision could be made any time.
BJP President Nitin Gadkari met Jaswant here last week before leaving for the party national executive in Patna to discuss his entry into the party. Jaswant is believed to have expressed the wish that he would like to rejoin the party in the presence of the top brass. However, the BJP's top leadership decided to hold the national executive and then deal with the issue.
Sources said he may join the party in a day-or-two They felt that delaying it will serve no purpose as both Jaswant and the BJP leadership are in agreement on the issue.
When asked when Jaswant will join the BJP, party general secretary Ananth Kumar said, "When a final decision is taken our party president will present himself before the media."
Speculation about his re-entry into BJP have been rife since he sent overtures to BJP Parliamentary Party Chief L K Advani. Sources said the two have been in touch over phone and have even met a few times in the last nine months. The two had even travelled together in a chartered plane to Jaipur to attend the funeral of former vice-president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.
Jaswant Singh was expelled at the BJP Chintan Bhaitak held in Shimla in August last year a day after his book, "Jinnah- India, Partition, Independence", was released.
The book described the Pakistan founder as secular and sought to blame Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel for the partition of the country.
Jaswant, 72, had expressed his resentment at the manner in which the decision was taken and asked why he was not even asked to clarify his position. He had said that the decision was conveyed to him on the phone by then party president Rajnath Singh. His book was promptly banned by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in his state.
The acrimony between Jaswant and BJP only grew further when he refused to step down as Chairperson of Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Later, in December he voluntarily resigned from the post, three months before his term was to end.
However, there was a thaw in relations as time passed. Sources said Advani was unhappy about Jaswant's removal from the party and the manner in which it was done. On his part, Jaswant recently said BJP was in his blood.
Gadkari, who had announced that all those who had to leave the party could come back provided they expressed regret for their actions, is also open to the idea of Jaswant's return. Jaswant, a founder member of the 30-year-old party, had served the BJP-led NDA government as External Affairs Minister and Finance Minister.
As External Affairs Minister he had accompanied the three terrorists to Kandahar for the release of hijacked passengers of IC-814 in December, 1999. PTI