He is no stranger to controversy

For the second time in three years, the 71-year-old party veteran and a former Union minister was in the eye of a storm for his writings, but paid the price this time amid a furore over his just released book on the legacy of Pakistani founding father, Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

A controversy erupted in July 2006 immediately after Singh released a book titled A Call to Honour: In Service of Emergent India in which he insinuated that a mole had existed in the prime ministerial office during the tenure of prime minister P V Narasimha Rao, who had leaked information to American sources. Jaswant for most part is not among the BJP leaders always in the limelight. Known as a man of few words — a mumble in a baritone — Jaswant , an ex-officer of the Indian Army, has maintained a low political profile.
Jaswant is one of the few Indian politicians to have been the minister for finance, defence and external affairs — all during the two tenures of prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

But it was the hijack crisis in December 1999 which dealt a body blow to his image for escorting three terrorists in an official aircraft to Kandahar in Afghanistan who were released by India in exchange of passengers from the hijacked Indian Airlines plane.

Defence issues

Jaswant has an abiding interest in defence issues and has been a member of the Defence Services Institute; the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies and the International Institute of Strategic Studies, London.

He played a crucial role when Indo-Pak relations had hit a nadir after the Indian Parliament was attacked by terrorists in December 2001, and a war between the two nations seemed imminent. A man who loves his work as much as his sporty pastime, Jaswant plays golf and polo, despite a serious equestrian accident long ago.

Known for his self-deprecating humour, Jaswant during a debate after Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee presented his budget recently, said the amount of tax relief given for senior citizens was not enough for him to buy even a “bottle of whisky”.

Jaswant, who hails from Rajasthan, was the BJP’s surprise candidate from Darjeeling in West Bengal from where he won with the backing of Gorkha Janamukti Morcha.

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. Known for his moderate political views, he is a self-described liberal democrat.

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