Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Journey Across The Sand Dunes Of Rajasthan 8

By Manuwant Choudhary

The top story is that India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh is a rubber stamp !

Its been discovered that files for top appointments don't even come to him...instead it goes directly to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and in the end it is sent to Rajnath Singh and he just has to sign on the dotted line.

In parliament when the Congress MP Digvijaya Singh raised the matter..Rajnath Singh flustered for words....

But was there ever a doubt that Rajnath Singh was a rubber stamp?

It was he as BJP President who rubber-stamped Narendra Modi to Prime Ministership...

And Modi simply bulldozed his way to the top !

Modi is at best a bully...and even his best attempts to playing the good guy by giving money to Nepal and Bhutan does not win him trust.

Its like Amjad Khan (Gabbar Singh) being asked to play hero !

But as I travelled across the deserts of Rajasthan I came across milestones...with Barmer written on it.

And I thought of Jaswant Singh.

Barmer is far..very far...and I wondered how difficult it would be not just to contest an election from this place but even to nurture this constituency.

Jaswant Singh was born in a princely family and he joined the Indian army having been selected as a cadet at the National Defence Academy.

But at as an army officer he went up to his boss and told him he wanted to resign.

When the boss asked him why he told him that he wanted to write a book and he didn't have time...

On seeing the young officers hurry, the senior officer asked him, "How old are you?"

Jaswant Singh replied, "21".

The officer laughed at him and refused to accept his resignation, "You are 21 and you say you don't have time...The Indian army is the only place where we have all the time..we don't know what to do with it..."

Jaswant Singh resigned again later...this time he told his boss he was getting into politics...

It is the tall leader Bhairon Singh Shekhawat (later India's vice-president) who mentored him to join the Jana Sangh and later the BJP.

Jaswant Singh went on to become India's foreign minister and finance minister.

He is among India's few politicians who has a perfect website (yes, its better than Narendra Modi's website)...check it out at

He writes there how he never got any pension but what he learnt in the army was his real pension.

Jaswant Singh is a soldier-politcian.

Always dressed in a safari-like shirt with flaps on his shoulders..he did not quite fit the Indian politician mould.

And Swapan Dasgupta writes that its quite amazing how someone like Jaswant Singh could remain on the front benches of Indian politics for such a long time.

Of course, Swapan Dasgupta questions Jaswant Singh's loyalty when he rebelled against the BJP when they did not give him a ticket.

But I would  not think like that....Jaswant Singh is simply the right man in the wrong party.

So it did not surprise me one bit when he chose to contest in Barmer as an independent...and fight for his honour.

I have covered a few pressers of Jaswant Singh and I must admit I never could get myself to do a sit down interview with him...because I may perhaps not comprehend his English fully.

In the Lok Sabha when Jaswant Singh spoke you would think its the House of Commons !

Jaswant Singh is more British than the British.

I would not have written about him..but he unlike other BJP leaders openly condemned the 2002 Gujarat riots and even revealed how Prime Minister Vajpayee wanted to sack Narendra Modi but Advani prevailed over Vajpayeeji...."Bawaal Ho Jayega..."

But Jaswant Singh's interests were for the BJP...not to destroy the party but to make it broader...more appealing and just.

But he is not a very popular leader within the BJP...and people did not quite understand why Vajpayee gave him such importance...Swapan Dasgupta enlightens us that people uncharitably said Vajpayee was over-awed with Jaswant Singh's English.

What made matters worse was that like Advani praised Jinnah and got into trouble...Jaswant Singh went a step ahead and wrote a book praising Jinnah !

Both paid a huge price.

Jaswant Singh disagrees with the Indian view that Jinnah was a demon as well as with the ideography view of Jinnah in Pakistan...

But like in Pakistan...Indian politics too has no place for truth or liberals !

Jaswant Singh lost the elections.

The new BJP is in power and  Ajit Doval has become the National Security Advisor to PM Modi...

Doval is the same man involved in the negotiations in the release of terrorists when Kandahar hijacking took place...and he was critical of Jaswant Singh accompanying the terrorists to Kandahar.

What was worse was when Advani said he was not a part of the decision to send Jaswant Singh to Kandahar.

Jaswant Singh got a reprimand not just from the RSS but a bad press too.

Yet, the fact often missed is the bravery...we must not forget India did not recognise the Taliban government and it was a very difficult moment for India to even figure out whom to talk to...

So Jaswant Singh's presence itself meant something to the Taliban....and to Indians back home.

Jaswant Singh did not go to return the terrorists as `honoured guests'..but to bring back 157 Indians held hostage at Kandahar....

Only Jaswant Singh could have done that...

The mornings papers have a routine report `Jaswant Singh Critical', he remains in coma after a fall at his Delhi home....

Jaswant Singh loved his wine and Scotch. (he was even accused of serving drinks laced with opium)

Do not hold all that against him...

Instead heed his warning against the new BJP that rules India....

India remains critical.

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