Jaswant Singh

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For the Indian field hockey player, see Jaswant Singh (field hockey). For the Indian Army commander, see Joginder Jaswant Singh. For the Indian author, see Jaswant Singh Marwah.
Jaswant Singh
Jaswant Singh.jpg
Minister of Finance
In office
1 July 2002 – 2004
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded by Yashwant Sinha
Succeeded by P Chidambaram
In office
1996–1996
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded by Manmohan Singh
Succeeded by P Chidambaram
Minister of Defence
In office
2000–2001
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded by George Fernandes
Succeeded by George Fernandes
Minister of External Affairs
In office
5 December 1998 – 2002
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded by Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Succeeded by Yashwant Sinha
Personal details
Born (1938-01-03) January 3, 1938 (age 76)
Rajputana, British India
Political party Bharatiya Janata Party
Independent (from 29 March 2014)
Alma mater Mayo College
Indian Military Academy
Religion Hinduism
Website http://www.jaswantsingh.com

Jaswant Singh (born January 3, 1938) is an Indian politician. He earlier belonged to the Bharatiya Janata Party and has held many portfolios in the national cabinet including Finance, External Affairs and Defence during the NDA regime (1998 to 2004). He was also the Leader of Opposition from 2004 to 2009 in the Rajya Sabha and the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of India(1998–99). He is known for his rigid political views.

On 29 March 2014, he was expelled from the BJP after he refused to withdraw his nomination as an independent in the Barmer-Jaisalmer Lok Sabha constituency against his own party candidate.[1][2]

On 7 August 2014, he has fallen at his residency and suffered serious head injuries. He has been admitted to Army's Research and Referral hospital in Delhi for treatment.[3]

Early life[edit]

Singh was born on January 3, 1938 at village Jasol, Barmer district, Rajasthan in a Rajput family.[4] His father was Thakur Sardara Singh and mother was Kunwar Baisa. Singh is married to Sheetal Kumari. They have two sons. his elder son Manvendra Singh former Member of Parliament from Barmer.[5] He was an officer in the Indian Army in the 1960s and is an alumnus of Mayo College and the National Defence Academy (India), Khadakwasla.

Political life[edit]

Though Singh entered politics in the late 60s, the first few years of his political life lacked success and recognition, till he was initiated in the Jan Sangh, by BJP stalwart Bhairon Singh Shekhawat who is considered to be Jaswant's political mentor. He tasted success in his political career in 1980 when he was first selected for the Rajyasabha, the upper house of Indian parliament. He served as Finance minister in the short-lived government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, which lasted just from May 16, 1996, to June 1, 1996. After Vajpayee became Prime Minister again two years later, he became Minister for External Affairs of India, serving from December 5, 1998 until July 1, 2002. Responsible for foreign policy, he dealt with high tensions between India and Pakistan. In July 2002 he became Finance Minister again, switching posts with Yashwant Sinha. He served as Finance Minister until the defeat of the Vajpayee government in May 2004 and was instrumental in defining and pushing through the market-friendly reforms of the government. He was conferred the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award for the year 2001. On 19 August 2009, he was expelled from BJP after criticism over his remarks in his book which allegedly praised the founder of Pakistan in his book Jinnah - India, Partition, Independence. His last major position was as Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha from 2004 to 2009.

He was denied a ticket by the party to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha Parliamentary Elections from the Barmer-Jaisalmer constituency in Rajasthan. He was subsequently expelled from the BJP after deciding to contest the elections as an independent candidate, and lost to his former party's candidate Col. Sonaram Choudhary.[6]

Vice President Nominee[edit]

He was the candidate for the post of Vice president for the NDA in 2012. On 6 August 2012, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa extended AIADMK’s support to NDA's vice-presidential nominee Jaswant Singh saying that there has to be an opposition in a true democracy.[7] He lost to Hamid Ansari who was the UPA's Vice presidential candidate.[8]

Career[edit]

Jaswant Singh (left) with Donald Rumsfeld
With Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

In the government of Vajpayee, Singh was External Affairs Minister. Later he became Minister of Finance with Yashwant Sinha. He was also the Defence Minister when George Fernandes was forced to resign after the Tehelka exposure.

Singh is widely regarded for his handling of relations with the United States which were strained after the 1998 Indian nuclear tests but which ameliorated soon after culminating in the 2000 visit of U.S. President Bill Clinton to India. His skill as a negotiator and diplomat during talks with the United States has been well acknowledged by his U.S. counterpart Strobe Talbott.

Singh has been frequently criticized by political parties for escorting terrorists to Kandhahar, Afghanistan. They were released by the Government of India in exchange for passengers from a hijacked Indian Airlines plane.[9]

Singh was denied a Member of Parliament ticket for Barmer by BJP for the Indian general election, 2014 over Col. Sonaram Choudhary. Unhappy, Singh filed his nomination as an independent candidate from Barmer constituency.[10] Subsequently he was expelled from BJP for six years[11] and lost the election.[6]

Allegations of Favoritism and Corruption[edit]

Mr Jaswant Singh while he was the external affairs minister, was alleged to have taken extraordinary personal interest in getting Devyani Khobragade her choice of posting in Germany as IFS probationer sidelining a meritoriously ranked batch mate Mahaveer C Singhvi and taking punitive actions against the meritorious batch mate for protesting the illegality. The Supreme Court of India in its judgment in Union of India v Mahaveer C Singhvi cites "... the then Minister of External Affairs, Government of India, appears to have taken an active interest on the complaint made by Mrs. Narinder Kaur Chadha".

Controversy[edit]

A controversy erupted immediately after the release of his book, in which Singh insinuated that a mole had existed in the Prime Ministerial Office during the tenure of P. V. Narasimha Rao, who had leaked information to U.S. sources. Soon after, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh challenged him to name the mole. In response, Singh sent a letter to him. The letter, Manmohan Singh said later, had no signature, and no name of any mole. Jaswant Singh then backed off, saying his views on the subject were based on a "hunch".[12]

Controversy hovered around him again when on 17 August 2009 another book authored by him, entitled Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence, was released. In this he praised Mohammad Ali Jinnah and claimed that the centralised policy of Jawaharlal Nehru was responsible for Partition.[13] He was later expelled from the primary membership of BJP as a result of the ensuing controversy.[14] In interviews with media he quoted BJP as narrow-minded and to have limited thought.In 2010, he was readmitted to BJP.[15]

Positions held[edit]

  • 1980 Elected to Rajya Sabha
  • 1986 Re-elected to Rajya Sabha (2nd term)
  • 1986-1989 – Member, Public Accounts Committee, Rajya Sabha
  • Member, Committee on Privileges, Rajya Sabha
  • Member, Committee on Public Undertakings, Rajya Sabha
  • 1987 Member, Consultative Committee constituted under the Punjab State
  • 1989-1991 Legislature (Delegation of Powers) Act, 1987
  • 1990 Elected to 9th Lok Sabha
  • 1991-1996 Chairman, Estimate Committee
  • 1991 Re-elected to 10th Lok Sabha (2nd term)
  • 1991 Chairman, Committee on Environment and Forests
  • 1992 Member, Joint Parliamentary Committee to enquire into Irregularities in Securities and Banking Transactions
  • 1993 – Chairman, Committee on Energy
  • 1996-97 – Re-elected to 11th Lok Sabha (3rd term)
  • May 1996 – Union Cabinet Minister, Finance
  • 25 March 1998 – 4 Feb. – Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission
  • July 1998 – Re-elected to Rajya Sabha (3rd term)
  • Dec. 1998-1 Jul. 2000 Union Cabinet Minister, External Affairs
  • Feb-Oct. 1999 Union Cabinet Minister, Electronics (Simultaneous charge)
  • 6 Aug.-13 Oct. 1999 Union Cabinet Minister, Surface Transport (Simultaneous charge)
  • 15 Oct. 1999 Re-elected to Rajya Sabha (4th term)
  • 18 March-15 Oct. 2001 Union Cabinet Minister, Defence (Simultaneous charges)
  • 1 Jul. 2002-9 Apr. 2 Minister of Finance & Company Affairs, Govt. of India
  • 10 April 2002-21 May Union Cabinet Minister, Finance
  • 2004 Re-elected to Rajya Sabha (5th term)
  • 2004 Leader of Opposition, Rajya Sabha
  • August 2004 – August 2006 – Member, Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests
  • August 2004 – May 2009 – Member, Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Installation of Portraits/Statues of National Leaders and Parliamentarians in Parliament House Complex
  • August 2005 – Member, General Purposes Committee
  • 2009 Re-elected to 15th Lok Sabha (4th term)
  • 6 Aug. 2009 - 31 December – Chairman, Committee on Public Accounts
  • 10 Sep. 2009 Member, Committee on Budget
  • 1 Jan. 2010 Member, Committee on Public Accounts

References[edit]

Jaswant Singh Challenges Choudhary Jaswant Singh Resign Jaswant Singh Accuses Former Party BJP

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Manmohan Singh
Finance Minister of India
1996–1996
Succeeded by
P. Chidambaram
Preceded by
Yashwant Sinha
Finance Minister of India
2002–2004
Preceded by
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Minister for External Affairs of India
1998–2002
Succeeded by
Yashwant Sinha
Preceded by
George Fernandes
Minister for Defence of India
2000–2001
Succeeded by
George Fernandes