Swamy, Rao and Janata Dal

Subramanian Swamy, now a BJP MP, had helped then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao to split Janata Dal in 1990s for winning confidence motions, a new book says.

A former Commerce Minister, Swamy had “worked hard to engineer” defections in Janata Dal following which Ajit Singh and other MPs came out, according to ‘Half Lion: How P V Narasimha Rao Transformed India’ that will be released on Monday.

Swamy, then with Janata Party and now a staunch Congress-critic, was called by Rao soon after he won the confidence motion on July 15, 1991 and told him that he did not like the tag minority government.

“You (Swamy) have to help me get a majority. You did it for Rajiv Gandhi, You broke the V P Singh government,” Rao said. Swamy replied, according to the book by journalist-turned-academician Vinay Sitapati, “Janata Dal is rudderless. VP is a failed leader. You can break it. But it will cost you.” Rao said it was not a problem.

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(Chandraswami — left — and Subramanian Swamy)

Rao also got help from Chandraswami who was quoted in the book, “I worked with Subramanian Swamy to get Ajit Singh group.” By August 1992, 20 MPs had defected from Janata Dal, reducing its strength to 39.

According to the book, Rao had a meeting with Swamy on July 26, 1992, two days before he faced a no-confidence motion. “I helped break Janata Dal. I had a problem. All these people wanted money. If I gave the money and they complained, I would go to jail,” Swamy is quoted in the book.

However, Swamy’s efforts had little effect on Ajit Singh when he met him the next day. However, seven of the 20 MPs with Ajit Singh further defected and Rao won the vote.

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(Rao with Swamy)

Swamy has described Rajiv Gandhi as a “friend” while describing a meeting Rao had with the assassinated leader. During this meeting, Gandhi had told Rao that he should not contest as he was old and that he would bring him to Rajya Sabha.

The book says that Rao was “paranoid” that Sonia Gandhi was plotting against him. Swamy claims that Rao began collecting material on Sonia, “especially her citizenship documents” but the book says there was no way to confirm this as Rao’s private papers contain no evidence to back this assertion.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Jun 27, 2016)

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