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Zail Singh tried to oust Rajiv, says Rao

Former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao on Thursday affirmed before the Jain Commission that he was aware of moves to oust Rajiv Gandhi from the post of prime minister by the then president Giani Zail Singh.

Appearing for the third consecutive day before the Commission inquiring into the possibility of a conspiracy in Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, Rao said he was also aware some pro-Khalistan militants having visited the Rashtrapati Bhavan during Singh's tenure.

To another question by K K Tewary, a former Congressman, he said, ''I remember Tewary levelling serious charges against former President Zail Singh during discussions held in Parliament,'' adding that he did not remember Tewary ever resigning from the council of ministers in protest against the conspiracy to oust Rajiv Gandhi by Zail Singh with the active connivance of tantrik Chandra Swami.

''I cannot say whether Chandra Swami, with whom I was having a man-to-man contact, met me during the 1986-87 crisis afflicting the Rajiv Gandhi regime,'' Rao said.

Rao, who was external affairs minister in the Rajiv Gandhi Cabinet, said he did not recollect if the draft letter for the dismissal of Gandhi prepared at Rashtrapati Bhavan was handed over to journalist Arun Shourie by Chandra Swami.

Replying to another question by Tewary, Rao said he was aware that Fairfax, an American detective agency having close liaison with the US Central Intelligence Agency , was acting for the Indian government through the finance ministry headed by V P Singh.

But he did not remember if the Union Cabinet or the prime minister was informed about its engagements.

''I do not know exactly the relation between tantrik Chandra Swami and Janata Party leader Dr Subramanian Swamy,'' Rao said when Tewary described them as the symbol of CIA activities in the country.

He denied favouring Satish Sharma, Romesh Bhandari and Dr Swami just because they were very close to Chandra Swami. Similarly, he also denied that Dr Swamy was appointed as the chairman of a committee because he was linked with Chandra Swami. ''It was my government's general policy to involve opposition leaders in policy matters,'' he explained.

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