|Jaswant fails to name
mole in RS
New Delhi, August 1
Senior BJP leader and former Union Minister Jaswant Singh’s failure to reveal the identity of an alleged US ‘mole’ in the PMO during the tenure of former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao has not only disappointed the BJP, but has also provided lethal ammunition to the ruling UPA alliance.
An indication of what is in store for the BJP came from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who launched a frontal attack on the former External Affairs Minister saying that his statement proved how low the top BJP leadership could stoop to.
Talking to reporters after Mr Jaswant Singh’s statement in the upper house, the Prime Minister said it was regrettable that a person, who was Minister of Defence, Finance and External Affairs, should behave in this manner.
Asked if the government planned any action against the senior BJP leader either for his failure to name the mole and thus misleading the House and for his utterances, the Prime Minister said: “It is for the country to judge to what level top BJP leadership could stoop”.
He said former US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott had written in his book that Mr Jaswant Singh had given assurance to him to “deliver India on CTBT” (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty) by a definite date.
Dr Manmohan Singh also recalled that the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had at that time said India was ready to convert the unilateral moratorium (on nuclear tests) into a de jure moratorium.
While the Prime Minister gave expression to the feeling of his UPA colleagues, it is being discussed whether Mr Jaswant Singh’s failure or “refusal” to reveal the identity of US ‘mole’ could become the basis for a breach of privilege or the issue could be referred to the House Ethics Committee.
A senior UPA leader said a move against the BJP leader in the House was “technically feasible”, but “whether it is politically advisable” was still not clear. “The pros and cons of the issue would have to be analysed and studied thoroughly before a decision is taken”, he said.
The BJP had anticipated the fallout of the ‘mole’ issue and leaders had discussed that at length. Some senior leaders had cautioned the party leadership to distance from defending “individual ventures” like that of Mr Jaswant Singh.
A senior BJP leader confirmed about the discussion that the party had over the issue and said Mr Jaswant Singh’s book, “A Call to Honour”, had taken wind out of the party’s campaign against the UPA government on issues like the price rise, internal security and Mumbai blasts.
Former Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi, in fact, had expressed reservations about the party backing Mr Jaswant Singh at a time when it had a golden opportunity to corner the UPA on its failure to arrest inflation and rise in prices. He had landed the party in an embarrassing situation by making the ‘mole’ allegations without substantial proof.
Earlier, Mr Jaswant Singh had a gruelling time in the Rajya Sabha when he was grilled by many MPs, including the Prime Minister, who posed probing questions at him.
Dr Manmohan Singh and many UPA members demanded that the BJP leader name the mole, who had allegedly leaked the nuclear secrets to the US in the mid-nineties, which he failed to do.
The UPA MPs, particularly the Congress members, were in no mood to listen to the former External Affairs Minister’s efforts to turn the table on the ruling benches by giving details of the country’s nuclear programme and follies of the previous Congress governments on the issue.
“Who is the mole and why are you shying away from that”, the Prime Minister asked Mr Jaswant Singh pointedly during the discussion on a notice given by Congress MP V. Narayanswamy that was marked by noisy exchanges between the two sides, resulting in two brief adjournments.
“You are levelling serious charges that we are being snooped. We are being snooped. Even the present PMO has a mole. If you have any evidence, you should name that person. If you do not name, let the country draw its own conclusion”, Dr Manmohan Singh said.
At the end of the three-hour
discussion, the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha did not come
out with any name of the alleged US ‘mole’.
July 29: The name of the US 'mole' in the PMO during the P V Narasimha Rao regime, referred to by former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh in his book, and other details have been given to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The senior BJP leader said this on the sidelines of a function at which his book A Call To Honour was released.
"I had requested for personal time with the PM twice but there was no response both times. Therefore yesterday I have sent the entire text of the letter to him, with no names omitted, no details removed. The letter has been with him for the past 24 hours now. It is upto him to do whatever is right in the national interest," Singh said.
"I have never used the word 'mole', even in the book. However it generated so much excitement and the Prime Minister charged me with lacking in decency. He is a big man, he can use big words, but I find it difficult to assume the idioms of an 'akhara' in a village," Singh said.
He also criticised, what he called, India's ‘subservient’ US policy, saying ‘we have to stop being dewy-eyed about the United States. The US objective to shackle India's nuclear capability remains constant. Being natural allies with the US does not mean being naturally subservient to us interests’.
"What the US is doing in our region today is greatly detrimental to our interests. As far as the nuclear deal is concerned, both governments have not been candid about the purpose of the agreement," he added.
Singh also relived his ‘period of torment’ during the Kandahar crisis saying, "how do you choose between two wrongs? Letting three terrorists go unpunished was a great moral wrong and letting 166 people die was also a great moral wrong. We chose life
Addressing newspersons at a specially convened press conference to clarify issues about which he had written in his just-released book "A Call to Honour", he made light of the "mole" in the PMO and asserted that the contents of the document in his possession in this regard did not not warrant any serious investigation.
"I do not know whether he was a civil or uncivil servant but he was in the PMO in a high position," said the former minister, who was dared by Manmohan Singh to disclose the name of the mole, in reply to a barrage of questions.
Mr Singh, who felt offended at the Prime Minister daring him to reveal the name through the media, made clear that he would not not seek an appointment with him since he had chosen to "speak through the media".
"I will share whatever information in my possession with the Prime Minister whenever he gives me time on his own," he said.
Mr Singh said yesterday that he would meet the Prime Minister and give the name of the mole to him but he chose to play a different tune today.
Confronted with a question as why he had sat over the information on the ''mole'' for a decade, Mr Singh said he felt no interests would be served by its disclosure and it would have appeared to be an act of "political vendetta digging graves" at a time when the country was going through a period of uncertainty and repeated change of governments.
"With the NDA government carrying out the needed nuclear tests and the central purpose of the government having been achieved, the disclosure would have appeared to be politics of vendetta," he asserted.
Asked why he did not inform intelligence and police agencies about the document, the BJP leader said, "the contents of the letter did not warrant any such investigation, certainly not by the Delhi Police."
Refuting suggestions that his ''disclosures'' were aimed at promoting his book, he said, "I seldom appear before the media even otherwise. I am not engaged in any kind of self- aggrandisement". He offered 30 per cent discount to accredited journalists.
To a question whether the letter in his possession was "authentic", he said, "let the Prime Minister judge it. Otherwise, let him trash it."
Earlier, Mr Singh read out
a written statement which claimed that "no money was ever paid to anybody
for obtaining the release of IC 814 and the hijacked passenger on December
31, 1999, either then, earlier or later".
PM challenged Jaswant
“If they have the courage, they must identify the person and not make excuses,” the Prime Minister said, targeting Mr Jaswant Singh as well as the BJP.
He made these remarks in a brief interaction with the reporters after attending an all- party meeting called by Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on the eve of the monsoon session of Parliament.
Dr Manmohan Singh made it clear that his government was prepared to discuss the allegations at length during the coming Parliament session.
The Prime Minister’s remarks assume significance as the Opposition, particularly the BJP, is likely to grill the government on the allegations. The government is expected to make a statement on the issue in the Parliament.
Former Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh has claimed in his book that someone in the PMO during the late Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao’s tenure had leaked nuclear secrets to the US and that “we are still being snooped”.
The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha said he had come to know about this a decade ago but had remained quiet so far as he did not want to sensationalise the issue.
“Neither are we scared of taking any action or having a debate on the issue,” the Prime Minister told mediapersons in response to a query.
The Opposition seems set to put the UPA government in the dock over its various alleged sins of omission and commission — other issues being reports of Laskher-a-Toiba moles infiltrating the Indian Air Force, the spiralling prices and suicide by farmers , Indo-US nuclear deal, the WTO and corruption.
Meanwhile, Congress leader and former Minister of State in the PMO Bhuvnesh Chaturvedi has rubbished Mr Jaswant Singh’s claims about an American mole operating in the office of Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao, terming these “a bunch of lies” timed to promote his autobiography.
Mr Chaturvedi, who was minister in the PMO then, called the suggestion a “figment of Singh’s imagination”.
He said there were only three persons in the PMO privy to all decisions and discussions. He claimed he had free access to the Prime Minister, who discussed practically every political issue with him before taking any decision.
“In a majority of cases, opinions expressed by me were accepted by the Prime Minister.”
Meanwhile, the BJP threatened to stall Parliament proceedings on the opening day of the monsoon session tomorrow, if its adjournment motion on the July 11 serial blasts in Mumbai was not taken up for discussion.
“We will move an adjournment
motion tomorrow on the Mumbai bomb blasts. If the motion is taken up, the
House will function,” senior BJP leader V K Malhotra told reporters after
the hour-long meeting of leaders of all political parties.
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