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Jaswant in coma after head injury

New Delhi, Aug. 8: Former BJP veteran Jaswant Singh slipped into a coma after suffering a head injury at his Delhi home past Thursday midnight. He was operated upon this morning.

Jaswant, 76, an ex-armyman, was admitted to the intensive care unit of the Army Research and Referral Hospital that termed his condition “very critical”.

A defence ministry statement said: “At present the condition is very critical. He is on life support systems and under constant monitoring by a team of neurosurgeons and critical care providers.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Jaswant’s family after the surgery. A PMO tweet said: “The PM spoke to the family of former union minister Jaswant Singh this morning. He prays for Singh’s speedy recovery.”

Senior BJP leader L.K. Advani and home minister Rajnath Singh called on Jaswant, as did Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

Jaswant’s political career had peaked when he was foreign minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. A close ally of Vajpayee, he played a part in reordering India’s foreign relations with a pronounced accent on closeness with the US. Vajpayee fully backed him in spite of the RSS’s opposition.

Jaswant managed to stay afloat in the BJP when Advani helmed it after Vajpayee faded out. But once Advani got marginalised around 2005 for praising Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah in Karachi, Jaswant found it hard to stay on course.

The BJP expelled him for writing a book that was regarded as a balanced account on Jinnah. A year later, Advani, who still retained a modicum of clout in the party, intervened and got him back.

In 2009, Singh left his home ground in Rajasthan and forayed into the hills of Bengal to contest from Darjeeling. With the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s backing, he won the seat.

In the 2014 elections, the BJP’s internal politics in Rajasthan elbowed him out of the state. He had expressed a desire to return to his Barmer parliamentary seat but the chief minister, Vasundhara Raje, got the ticket for a Congress rebel.

Jaswant, who had been initiated into the BJP’s precursor Jana Sangh by Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, fought as an Independent and lost. He was rarely seen in public since. His son Manvendra remains a BJP MLA.