Jaswant Singh

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Jaswant Singh
Jaswant Singh.jpg
Minister of Finance
In office
1 July 2002 – 21 May 2004
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded byYashwant Sinha
Succeeded byP. Chidambaram
In office
16 May 1996 – 1 June 1996
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded byManmohan Singh
Succeeded byP Chidambaram
Minister of Defence
In office
2 January 2000 – 18 October 2001
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded byGeorge Fernandes
Succeeded byGeorge Fernandes
Minister of External Affairs
In office
5 December 1998 – 5 December 2002
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded byAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Succeeded byYashwant Sinha
Personal details
Born (1938-01-03) 3 January 1938 (age 82)
Village - Jasol, District - Barmer Rajputana Agency, British IndiaToday-Jasol, Barmer, Rajasthan
Political partyBharatiya Janata Party
(till 2014)
Independent (2014-Present)
ChildrenManvendra Singh
Alma materIndian Military Academy
Mayo College
Military service
Allegiance India
Branch/service Indian Army
Years of service1957-1966[1]
UnitThe Central India Horse

Jaswant Singh (born 3 January 1938) is a retired officer of the Indian Army and a former cabinet minister. He is a founding member of the Bharatiya Janata Party.[2] He is one of India's longest serving parliamentarians, having been a member of one or the other house almost continuously between 1980 and 2014.

He was elected on a BJP ticket to the Rajya Sabha five times (1980, 1986, 1998, 1999, 2004) and to the Lok Sabha four times (1990, 1991, 1996, 2009). During the Vajpayee administration (1998-2004), he held some of the highest offices of the land, handling at various times the cabinet portfolios of Finance, External Affairs and Defence. He also served for a period as Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission (1998–99). In the aftermath of India's nuclear tests of 1998, he was deputed by Prime Minister Vajpayee to act as India's single representative to hold repeated, long-term dialogue with the USA (represented by Strobe Talbott) on matters related to nuclear policy and strategy; the outcome of the sustained engagement was positive for both countries. After his party lost power in 2004, Jaswant Singh served as Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha from 2004 to 2009.

Jaswant Singh incurred the displeasure of his party colleagues when, after the party suffered its second successive defeat in 2009, he circulated a note demanding thorough discussion on the debacle.[3] Only weeks later, a book authored by him was released, in which he was found to have written sympathetically about Jinnah. Singh remained unrepentant through the brouhaha that followed, but found himself marginalized thereafter within the party and left to his own devices, to tend to his parliamentary constituency of Darjeeling in West Bengal. Come the elections of 2014, his party decided not to field him from any constituency. He decided to contest anyway as an independent from his native constituency of Barmer in Rajasthan. This meant that he would face off against the candidate put up by his party, and after he refused to withdraw, he was expelled from the BJP on 29 March 2014.[4][5] He lost the election to the candidate put up by his former party.

Only a few weeks later, on 7 August 2014, Jaswant Singh suffered a fall in the bathroom of residence and suffered a serious head injury. He was admitted to Army's Research and Referral hospital in Delhi for treatment. He has been in a state of coma ever since.[6]

Early life[edit]

Singh was born on 3 January 1938 at village Jasol, Barmer district, Rajasthan in a Rajput family.[7] His father was Thakur Sardar Singh Rathore of Jasol and mother was Kunwar Baisa. Singh is married to Sheetal Kanwar. They have two sons. His elder son, Manvendra Singh, is a former Member of Parliament from Barmer.[8] He also has two grandchildren: Harshini Kumari Rathore and Hamir Singh Rathore. 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 16 May 1996, to 1 June 1996. After Vajpayee became Prime Minister again two years later, he became Minister for External Affairs of India, serving from 5 December 1998 until 1 July 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.[9]

Shri Jaswant Singh was elected from Darjeeling Seat from the year 2009 to 2014.

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.[10] He lost to Hamid Ansari who was the UPA's Vice presidential candidate.[11]


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.[12]

Singh was denied a Member of Parliament ticket for Barmer by BJP for the 2014 Indian general election over Col. Sonaram Choudhary. Unhappy, Singh filed his nomination as an independent candidate from Barmer constituency.[13] Subsequently, he was expelled from BJP for six years[14] and lost the election.[9]


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".[15]

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.[16] He was later expelled from the primary membership of BJP as a result of the ensuing controversy.[17] In interviews with media he quoted BJP as narrow-minded and to have limited thought. In 2010, he was readmitted to BJP.[18]

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
  • 1989 Elected to 9th Lok Sabha from Jodhpur.
  • 1991–1996 Chairman, Estimate Committee
  • 1991 Re-elected to 10th Lok Sabha (2nd term) from Chittorgarh.
  • 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) from Chittorgarh.
  • 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 October 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) from Darjiling.
  • 6 August 2009 – 31 December – Chairman, Committee on Public Accounts
  • 10 September 2009 Member, Committee on Budget
  • 1 January 2010 Member, Committee on Public Accounts


  • National Security: An Outline of Our Concerns, 1996
  • Defending India, 1999
  • District Diary, 2001
  • Travels in Transoxiana: In the Lands Over the Hindu Kush and Across the Amu Darya, 2006
  • Khankhana Nama, 2006
  • A Call to Honor: In Service of Emergent India, 2006
  • Till Memory Serves: Victoria Cross Winners of India, 2007
  • Conflict & Diplomacy, 2008
  • Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence, 2009
  • The Audacity of Opinion, 2012
  • India at Risk: Mistakes, Misconceptions and Misadventures of Security Policy, 2013


  1. ^ a b c Jaswant Singh. In Service of Emergent India: A Call to Honour.
  2. ^ "Jaswant's expulsion is the BJP's gift to the RSS". Rediff. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  3. ^ "BJP expels Jaswant Singh over Jinnah book - Livemint". www.livemint.com. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  4. ^ Jaswant Singh rules out withdrawal from Barmer Lok Sabha seat. The Indian Express (29 March 2014). Retrieved on 2014-05-21.
  5. ^ BJP expels defiant Jaswant Singh for 6 years. Hindustan Times. Retrieved on 21 May 2014.
  6. ^ "Jaswant Singh in coma after severe head injury, condition 'highly critical'". 8 August 2014.
  7. ^ "Jaswant is sacked without show-cause notice, but Vasundhara could defy directive to resign"
  8. ^ Jaswant Singh Rathore Biography
  9. ^ a b "Election Results: Jaswant goes down fighting in Barmer". 17 May 2014.
  10. ^ "Jayalalithaa extends support to Jaswant Singh". 6 August 2012.
  11. ^ "Jaswant Singh to challenge Hamid Ansari test Vice-President's post". 16 July 2012.
  12. ^ "I am bewildered: Jaswant". Chennai: The Hindu. 28 July 2006. Retrieved 29 July 2006.
  13. ^ Defiant Jaswant takes on Modi, dares BJP to sack him : Highlights, News – India Today. Indiatoday.intoday.in (24 March 2014). Retrieved on 2014-05-21.
  14. ^ General elections 2014: Senior leader Jaswant Singh expelled from BJP for six years – The Economic Times. Economictimes.indiatimes.com (30 March 2014). Retrieved on 2014-05-21.
  15. ^ "I know no 'mole', Jaswant tells RSS". Yahoo.com. Retrieved 31 July 2006.[dead link]
  16. ^ "Nehru not Jinnah's polity led to partition". Jai Bihar. Archived from the original on 22 August 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2009.
  17. ^ "Jaswant Singh expelled over Jinnah remarks". Jai Bihar. 19 August 2009. Archived from the original on 21 August 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2009.
  18. ^ "Jaswant returns to BJP". Archived from the original on 27 June 2010.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Manmohan Singh
Finance Minister of India
Succeeded by
P. Chidambaram
Preceded by
Yashwant Sinha
Finance Minister of India
Preceded by
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Minister for External Affairs of India
Succeeded by
Yashwant Sinha
Preceded by
George Fernandes
Minister for Defence of India
Succeeded by
George Fernandes