Sonia asked Chidambaram to shield hawala case: Jaya Jaitly
Ex-Samata party president reveals Congress’ undue interest in Tehelka, why the 1984 anti-Sikh violence was worse than the 2002 Gujarat riots and much more in her memoir.
Accusing the Congress of having a hand in the Tehelka sting 'Operation West End' – which led to George Fernandes's resignation as Defence Minister – former Samata Party president Jaya Jaitly claims that Congress President Sonia Gandhi had written to then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram to ensure that the alleged financiers of Tehelka are not treated in an "unfair" or "unjust" manner.
She has made these claims in her upcoming autobiography Life among the 'Scorpions: Memoirs of a Woman in Indian Politics', which came out on November 7. She has presented a copy of the letter in the book. It also has a copy of a two-page letter from First Global, the alleged financiers of Tehelka, petitioning Sonia Gandhi, the then Chairperson of National Advisory Council. Jaitly also recalls that when George Fernandes insisted on resigning, L.K. Advani and Jaswant Singh advised against it. Soon after, Jaswant Singh brought the Prime Minister's message to the Defence Minister, accepting his resignation. George Fernandes was only too eager to oblige, she says. However, Jaitly was miffed that she had also been asked to resign by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, while she had made her stand clear in her own party that she had done nothing wrong and would not resign.
She also claims that the Congress, which was then in opposition, was the ultimate beneficiary of the sting by Tehelka, which allegedly received hawala funds. Jaitly also recounts her appalling experiences during the investigations under the Commission of Inquiry, instituted after the Tehelka sting. When the matter was suddenly and arbitrarily sent to a court, she says she feared that the judge, who convicted former BJP president Bangaru Laxman of bribery and was hearing her case too, would eventually convict her irrespective of her arguments.
In the memoirs, Jaya Jaitly also recollects her meeting with alleged arms middleman Christian Michel, of how he bragged about helping prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao to spy on Sonia Gandhi and then went on to offer her an opportunity to make a 'huge pile of money' for the Samata Party of which she was president at the time.
In the context of her revelations on how defence deals are done in India, Jaitly recalls a meeting with a senior Congressman where he informed her that people were willing to pay 'twenty lakh rupees to have a cup of tea' with her. When Jaitly asked him why he explained that 'it cuts the competition'. This was when the first NDA Government was in power with the Samata Party as its key ally, with George Fernandes as the Union Defence Minister.
With regard to the BJP, she says that L.K. Advani ensured that the BJP under him dispelled the notion of being a Hindu-only party which led to a smooth functioning of the alliance and the NDA government. She, however, regrets the fact that BJP's 'arrogance' cost the NDA the 2004 elections as it failed to get allies which, in contrast, the Congress, managed quite well.
Jaitly also reminisces about the 1984 anti-Sikh riots calling them one of the most horrific instances of gruesome violence unleashed in an organized manner against a community. Further, she recalls her experiences of working extensively for the relief of the Sikh victims at the time. She refuses to make any comparisons between the 1984 riots and the 2002 Gujarat riots and claims that during the Gujarat Riots, the then state Chief Minister Narendra Modi was 'in constant touch with George Fernandes' [the then Defence Minister] to quell the violence.
Attacking her former colleague in the Samata Party, Nitish Kumar, for not being supportive of her initiatives as party president or even as a handicrafts activist, Jaitly reveals that Kumar ditched her for a Rajya Sabha seat which he had promised to George Fernandes. She also gives instances in her memoirs where Kumar put his self-interest above the party's. She criticizes Lalu Yadav for projecting himself to be secular by stopping Advani's rath yatra while having taken no action against the real perpetrators of the Bhagalpur riots after coming to power. However, Jaitly appreciates the fact that Samata Party's fight against Lalu Yadav in Bihar ensured that he was not in a position to claim the high chair of prime ministership and instead, the Janata Dal leader from the south, H.D. Deve Gowda became the prime minister in United Front government.
Lastly, Jaitly in her memoirs also reveals details of the allegations of match-fixing against former Indian cricketer Ajay Jadeja, who is also her son-in-law. Jaitly narrates how IT officials had landed at her home, thinking it to be Ajay's, but gone back empty-handed.