Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari has termed as "closed" the issue of Jaswant Singh's book praising Pakistan founder M A Jinnah and said return of leaders like him will strengthen the party.
"To add people to the party is going to strengthen it... It is a good thing for the party," Gadkari said when asked about return of leaders like Jaswant Singh and Ram Jethmalani to BJP.
On the former defence minister not apologising for writing the book praising Jinnah which had led to his expulsion 10 months ago, Gadkari said, "These are old issues. The issue is closed. Apart from the views, he is loyal to the party."
"As a person, Jaswant Singh is a good man. He is a senior and experienced leader. At the time of foundation of the party, he was there. I respect him. Apart from his book, he is loyal to the party," Gadkari said in an interview to Karan Thapar for CNN-IBN.
Gadkari maintained that in a democratic party, every leader has the right to have different opinions.
"A big political party is a group of big political leaders. Everyone has some independent and different opinions. It never happens that 100 per cent opinions are same."
"There may be some opinions that Jaswant Singh may have which I may not agree with. But, in the larger interest as far as BJP is concerned, I feel he is loyal to the party, is a very respectable leader, that is why I approached him," he said.
He claimed eminent lawyer Jethmalani, who recently won a Rajya Sabha seat from Rajasthan as a BJP candidate, had apologised for certain remarks made by him against former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee before he was taken back.
"He cleared the things....before coming to BJP he cleared the things that those comments (against Vajpayee) were not good. That he is sorry for it," Gadkari said.
The party president said the chapter is closed and BJP as well as Vajpayee's family were satisfied with Jethmalani's explanation.
About the recent crisis with JD(U) and the bitter clash between the coalition partners ahead of Assembly elections, Gadkari claimed the issue was not a creation of his party.
Asked if Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi will campaign in Bihar in the wake of opposition by certain JD(U) leaders, he said it was up to his party to decide who would canvas for its candidates in the polls.
"...I want to tell you one thing very clearly: In my party the candidates, where they are contesting, which all leaders will be campaigning for them will be decided by the Bharatiya Janata Party.
"It will not be decided by other parties or other leaders. It is our right, our privilege to decide who will be the leader to campaign for our party candidate," Gadkari said. However, he maintained the issue was a closed chapter.
On Jharkhand, where BJP failed to form a government with JMM support, Gadkari said, "We were expecting cooperation from Shibu Soren. He had committed to the party in writing. (But) at the time of change of roles, he was talking something different, (so) we took a decision that we don't want government in Jharkhand and we close the chapter."
"In the long term, the situation in Jharkhand will be beneficial for us," he claimed.