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RIP Jaswant Singh: The soldier who donned many hats in Vajpayee era


JAIPUR: The death of former Union minister Jaswant Singh marks the end of a shining star of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee era of Indian politics.

Singh, one of the founding members of the BJP, was at the centre of Indian strategy and policies in the era in various roles in the defence, finance, and external affairs ministries.

He is survived by his wife and two sons, including former Barmer MP Manvendra. Singh was born in Jasol village of Rajasthan’s Barmer district. On Sunday, the village marked his death with a deep sense of grief. All shops and markets in the area remained closed as a mark of respect.

Raised in a feudal Rajput family, Singh joined the Army and served till 1965 when he resigned to pursue a political career. He rose to prominence in 1980 after being sent the Rajya Sabha by the newly-formed BJP.

Singh remained a member of one of the Houses of Parliament till 2014. He was also conferred the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award for the year 2001.

Singh was known for his fondness for Polo. Besides his political pursuits, Singh was a learned author of numerous books and a senior fellow at Harvard and a visiting professor at Oxford.

His mastery over the English language is said to have endeared him especially to Vajpayee. As Vajpayee’s close friend, Singh was often entrusted with sensitive tasks on behalf of the NDA government.

After India conducted nuclear tests in 1998, Singh’s negotiations with the US representative Strobe Talbot played a vital role in easing of sanctions by the United States.

However, he faced heavy criticism for the Kandhar episode. He was also a close friend of former Rajasthan CMs Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Vasundhara Raje. However, later in his life, Singh fell out with Raje and turned into bitter foes.

After he was denied a ticket in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Singh decide to contest the elections as an independent candidate from Barmer. He was expelled from the party.

A few months later, Singh suffered a serious fall in his bathroom and slipped into a coma. Sadly, the valiant armyman-turned-politician could never recover from that terrible tragedy.