M A I N   N E W S

Advani resigns as BJP chief

New Delhi, June 7
BJP president L. K. Advani today resigned as party chief a day after the Sangh Parivar demanded that he withdraw his controversial remarks on Mohammed Ali Jinnah during his visit to Pakistan.

Mr Advani called BJP General Secretary Sanjay Joshi to his Prithviraj Road residence this morning and handed over to him the letter announcing his resignation as party president, a BJP press statement said.

Mr Advani maintained in the letter that he had not "said" or "done" anything in Pakistan that he needed to retract or review.

He said in the letter that he had decided to request the party to relieve him of the presidentship and acceding to his request would be in the best interests of the "great cause" and the party.

The letter, according to Mr Advani, was written just before departing from Karachi. He said he had taken the decision to resign after pondering over the matter very carefully.

Mr Advani said he believed that his visit to Pakistan last week had immensely reinforced the initiatives taken by the NDA government to bring about peace and normalcy with Pakistan.

Mr Advani's statement describing Mohammed Ali Jinnah as "secular" after visiting his mausoleum in Karachi in Pakistan on Saturday triggered a storm back home.
The statement came in for sharp criticism from the RSS, and the VHP. VHP leaders even described Mr Advani as a "traitor."

Meanwhile, VHP leader Praveen Togadia today welcomed the resignation of Mr L .K. Advani from the presidentship of the BJP and said "leaders of his ilk" should not be permitted to hold key posts.

Mr Togadia told mediapersons that Mr Advani's eulogising Mohd Ali Jinnah, "who had been responsible for the death of one million Hindus", was unforgivable and not in the interests of the nation.

Mr Togadia wondered why Mr Advani had chosen to make this statement at the mausoleum of Mr Jinnah in Pakistan and not when he was in India.

Replying to a question, the VHP leader said the election of a new leader was the prerogative of the BJP but added that both the BJP and the Congress should have leaders who are "truly Indian". UNIBack

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