M A I N   N E W S

BJP board rejects Advani’s resignation
VHP firm on replacement
Satish Misra/S Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and BJP Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu at the party’s parliamentary board and central office-bearers’ meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and BJP Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu at the party’s parliamentary board and central office-bearers’ meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday. 

New Delhi, June 8
The BJP Parliamentary Board and Central Office-Bearers “unequivocally” rejected the resignation of party president L.K. Advani here today. After the meeting, top party leaders, led by Mr M. Venkaiah Naidu, met him and made a renewed appeal to reconsider his decision.

Mr Advani, who tendered his resignation yesterday, is understood to have sought time till tomorrow to respond to the party’s appeal.

All through the day, Mr Advani held firm that there was no question of rescinding his resignation due to the unusual circumstances. After his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to brief him about his trip to Pakistan, Mr Advani told mediapersons that “the circumstances have not changed.”

At the same time, the BJP Parliamentary Board has been convened to meet again tomorrow when it will take stock of the situation and decide on the further course of action. From all indications it is unlikely that Mr Advani will relent and the party will have to look for an alternative.

An informal exercise is already under way to shortlist leaders who can succeed Mr Advani and also has the backing of the Sangh Parivar.

Simultaneously, the VHP continued with its hard stand that Mr Advani should be replaced by a “Hindu-minded leader” at the helm of affairs of the BJP. “We welcome Advani’s decision to resign, respecting the sentiments of the voters of his constituency and Hindu sentiments. He should stick to his decision,” VHP Vice-President Acharya Giriraj Kishore told newspersons.

The RSS sought to distance itself from the developments in the BJP with its chief K.S. Sudarshan stating in Mumbai that the leadership tangle is an internal matter of the saffron party.

The emergency meeting, chaired by Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu and attended, among others, by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and chief ministers of BJP-led states, passed a resolution rejecting Mr Advani’s resignation and appealing him to continue to lead the party.

Immediately after the one-hour meeting, the leaders barring Mr Vajpayee and former Union Minister Murli Manohar Joshi, went to Mr Advani’s residence in an attempt to persuade him to withdraw his resignation.

Sources said Mr Advani told the leaders that he would give his decision tomorrow in time for the Parliamentary Board meeting.

He is also understood to have asked the leaders about the stand of the Parliamentary Board and the top brass their views on the controversial remarks on Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah, which had irked the RSS and others in the Sangh Parivar.

The leaders who met Mr Advani included Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Babulal Gaur, Jharkhand CM Arjun Munda and Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh.

The other leaders who met Mr Advani were Ms Sushma Swaraj, Mr Pramod Mahajan, Mr Arun Jaitley, Mr Rajnath Singh, Mr Sushil Modi and Mr Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

The resolution, which was full of praise for Mr Advani, said, “The meeting appeals to Mr Advani to continue to lead the party, which he has so ably led in the past.”

“Mr Advani represents the best values in public life. He has scholarly articulated the debate on nationalism in the past few decades with rationality, logic and with powerful idioms,” it said, adding: “His contribution to our ideology is unparalleled.”

“The party has benefited enormously from his leadership and needs his leadership in the future also,” it said.

The resolution also condemned the use of “highly objectionable language” by some leaders of the VHP about Mr Advani.

“These statements have lowered the level of public discourse. Such outbursts, indecent protests and abusive language adversely affects the strength of the nationalist movement in the country. These statements also go against the very ethos of Hinduism,” the resolution said.

Meanwhile, top leaders of the party remained tight-lipped over the next course of action and the scheduled media briefing after the Parliamentary Board Meeting was cancelled at the last minute.




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