Jaswant defies BJP, holds parliamentary panel meet (Lead)

September 7th, 2009 - 6:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) Expelled Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Jaswant Singh Monday convened a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of parliament, defying the party’s call that he should quit as its chairman. None of the BJP MPs attended.
Six MPs — including the BJP’s Gopinath Munde, Yashwant Sinha and Shanta Kumar — gave the meeting a miss. When he was in the BJP, Jaswant Singh was appointed chairman of the 22-member committee that scrutinises government spending.

The committee, comprising 15 Lok Sabha MPs and seven from Rajya Sabha, has eight members from the Congress and three from the BJP, besides chairman Jaswant Singh.

Former finance and external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha, who had also spoken out against the BJP party publicly, said he had not boycotted the meeting and was in his constituency Hazaribagh in Jharkhand for a week.

“For the last seven days, I have been in Jharkhand and will remain here for the next three weeks as well,” Sinha told IANS, adding that those who had never been members of the Lok Sabha would not understand the obligations of a public representative.

The BJP had asked Jaswant Singh, elected to the Lok Sabha from Darjeeling, to quit the parliamentary panel post on the grounds of “morality” after he was expelled from the party.

BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad had said: “According to parliamentary tradition, the post of the PAC chairman goes to a Lok Sabha member of the principal opposition party. And he (Singh) was assigned the crucial position for being in the party. Now that he has been expelled, the party will take a call soon.”

However, a combative Jaswant Singh refused to quit, saying the decision had to be taken by the speaker.

The 71-year-old leader was expelled from the BJP following the release of his book “Jinnah - India, Partition, Independence”, in which he held that the founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, had been unfairly demonised in India.

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