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Leader backs Jaswant statement
Published on 24 Aug. 2009 10:44 PM IST
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Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was writing his resignation after the 2002 Gujarat riots but was physically prevented from doing so by his ministerial colleague Jaswant Singh who held his hand, claim two senior leaders. While one of them, Jaswant Singh, who was expelled last week from the BJP for his book on Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah, has gone public with the disclosure, the other preferred to remain anonymous. In an interview to NDTV news channel, Jaswant Singh recalled: “Pramod (Mahajan) was there. In the prime minister’s parliament office... I don’t remember the exact context. Pramod called me. Jaldi aaiye (come quickly), Jaswantji. When I went, I was told sambhaaliye, sambhaaliye, istifa de rahe hain (Please do something, he is going to quit). “He (Vajpayee) had called his secretary. I told his secretary to go away and not come back. He sternly asked me kya kar rahe ho (what are you doing). “Then he pulled a piece of paper and started writing the resignation by hand. I held his hand. I said Atalji aap mat kariye (please don’t). Somehow I persuaded him. Later, I went to his house and we were able to defuse the situation.” A senior BJP leader confirmed the claim. “I was present in the room when Vajpayeeji, disturbed by the killings in Gujarat, started writing his resignation but was forced by Jaswant Singhji, me and some other colleagues not to take a hasty step,” the BJP leader told IANS on condition of anonymity for he preferred to avoid any further controversy on the matter. The leader also confirmed that party veteran L.K. Advani prevented Vajpayee from taking action against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, whose government was then accused of having a hand in the riots that left over 1,100 people, mostly Muslims, dead. Jaswant Singh said: “We (Advani, Arun Shourie and Jaswant along with Vajpayee) were in the aircraft (on the way to Goa for a BJP meeting) as Vajpayeeji had asked us to discuss few things... He (Vajpayee) asked, Gujarat ka kya karna hai (What has to be done about Gujarat)?... There was silence for some time. He then said Gujarat ke bare mein sochna chahiye (We have to decide about Gujarat). Then Advaniji went towards the bathroom... Atalji said poochhiye fir kya karna hai (Ask him what has to be done)? “I went and asked Advaniji. Advaniji just said one phrase bawaal khada ho jayega party mein (it will create commotion in the party).” When questioned if this meant that Advani came in the way when Vajpayee sought action against Modi, Jaswant Singh said: “I think that is correct.” The Modi government in Gujarat has banned Jaswant Singh’s book on Jinnah.

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