M A I N   N E W S

Venkaiah Naidu quits
Advani to take over as BJP President
Satish Misra and S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 18
The Maharashtra Assembly electorate verdict took it first toll today when Mr Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu quit as the President of the BJP citing personal reasons forcing the party to hand over reins to former Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani.

Addressing a Press conference after a meeting of party senior leaders, Mr Naidu, flanked by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and senior party leader Jaswant Singh, pointed towards Mr Advani and said he would formally take over the reins of the party at the National Council meeting here on October 29, which will endorse his Presidentship.

The party has pinned hopes on 77-year-old Advani, who spearheaded the Ayodhya Temple Movement catapulating the party to the doors of power. He has already been the BJP president four times.

Party insiders, however, were not so sure that Mr Advani would now be able to revive the sagging morale of the party as his real test would come soon when the party would face Assembly elections in Bihar, Jharkhand and Haryana where the party does not stand a very bright chance.

Although he cited his wife Usha’s serious illness as the primary reason for his decision to quit, Mr Naidu said he took full responsibility for the party’s poor showing in the Lok Sabha polls and inability to capture power in the just-concluded Assembly polls in Maharashtra.

“My resignation is the result of inner discussion and consultation with my conscience,” the 55-year-old Naidu said adding he was quitting taking responsibility for the party’s debacle in the Lok Sabha and Maharashtra Assembly elections.

In the presence of the senior leadership of the party, Mr Naidu announced that he would not contest any elections “for the rest of my life” nor would any of his family member do so.

“In the recent past I have been facing a personal problem...my wife is not well and I had been feeling guilty that in the past two-three months I have not been able to give full-time to the party,” Mr Naidu said.

“While the Party President’s responsibility is a full-time job, but at the same time I needed to devote sometime to my wife. Even earlier when Mr Vajpayee was Prime Minister, I wanted Mr Advani to be President of the Party to take on the new challenges, but he expressed his inability to spare Mr Advani from the Government.”

“Now I am happy that my friends and seniors have agreed to the decision,” he said.

Mr Naidu’s resignation was accepted at an emergency meeting of the BJP central office-bearers here this evening, attended by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Advani and other senior leaders.

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