| Jaswant: ‘Crucial’ job
New Delhi, April 21: The BJP seems to be working in tandem with the king of Nepal.
Hours before Gyanendra’s surrender of power this evening, party leader Jaswant Singh, who is set to visit the troubled kingdom, hinted at “developments in Nepal much before I reach there on April 24. Things would have moved. There may be announcements. I do believe I have a role to play there.”
He added that there would be no change in his plan in the wake of the king’s move. In fact, it makes his job “even more crucial”, Singh said.
The former foreign minister later told The Telegraph: “We had an idea of what was to happen. That is why I am going there so that there is smooth transition of power in Nepal.”
The BJP’s involvement in Nepal is not surprising. The party has time and again voiced its sympathy for the king and Giriraj Kishore of the VHP even conducted joint prayers with Gyanendra.
Singh may not go to that extent but he has often stressed India’s earlier stand that Nepal politics has two pillars ' constitutional monarchy and multi-party democracy.
While the UPA government has of late shifted from that position, leaving out any reference to the monarchy, the BJP would at least want a symbolic role to be retained for the ruler of the only Hindu kingdom in the world.
“I believe in India’s stated position of the two pillars of democracy in Nepal. In my consultations with the Prime Minister today, I did not notice that this position had been changed. I would ask some of you, what is there to be so embarrassed about Nepal being a Hindu kingdom' Is anyone embarrassed about Pakistan being an Islamic republic'” Singh asked.
The BJP has built a bridge with Narayanhiti Palace and sources said some “very senior leaders” met Gyanendra’s “right-hand man” S.C. Shah about eight to 10 months ago.
The party has consistently attacked the UPA’s initiatives in Nepal. “The government has been harbouring a soft approach towards the Maoists in Nepal and supporting their insurgency. Such an attitude would prove detrimental both to the Himalayan kingdom and India,” Advani had said last Saturday.
Singh today said his efforts would be to “contribute to restoring peace, amity and accord” in Nepal. He denied that he was going there on the king’s invitation. Singh will be back on April 27.
The BJP leader also cleared the air on another controversial trip he had made six years ago to Kandahar. Asked about Madan Lal Khurana’s allegation that Singh had delivered $15 million to the terrorists who had hijacked an Indian Airlines plane in Kandahar on December 31, 1999, he laughed, saying the only thing he carried on the trip was a travelling bag.
“It is a small and a very old leather bag. Believe me, it would have broken had I carried this ridiculous amount of money,” he said.