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Vajpayee to have final say on party chief
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 20
Contrary to prevailing perception, it is not the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh but former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who will have the final say in selection of the next president of the Bharatiya Janata Party to replace Lal Krishna Advani in December.

While it is true that the RSS will play an influencing role in the process of selection but when it comes to crunch, it will be Mr Vajpayee who will have a veto on the issue, a BJP senior leader, whose RSS roots date back to pre-Partition days, said.

“Our effort is to find a leader who has leadership qualities along with organisational experience and capability and can take everyone along”, the leader said adding that the RSS would play an important role in suggesting such leaders in the BJP.

Though many of the aspirants for the BJP’s top job are undoubtedly seeking the RSS’s support but once choice has zeroed down to few names then Mr Vajpayee’s word shall matter, another leader said.

“If the RSS was the sole determining authority, then a leader enjoying the support of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad will be the next BJP chief but fortunately it is not so”, the leader said.

In the process of the growth of the BJP, triumvirate of leaders, namely Mr Vajpayee, Mr Advani and Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, emerged as the leading lights but when the party along with NDA allies assumed power at the Centre then the triumvirate was reduced to Mr Vajpayee and Mr Advani.

Now after Mr Advani’s remarks on Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah and the Sangh’s attack on him, Mr Vajpayee has emerged the tallest leader in the BJP, he said. Talking about the choices for the BJP’s next chief, a leader, who was a Governor during the NDA days, said:" Finally a dark horse will emerge”.

Another leader said that BJP Vice President Bal Apte is a strong contender for the post as he is non-controversial and has rich organisational experience.

Mr Apte has always maintained a low profile and has never trod on any one’s toes, he said and added that second generation leaders like Pramod Mahajan, M. Venkaiah Naidu, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Uma Bharti will not be able to keep the party united.

Dr Joshi, who enjoys the VHP support, is also in the race but he is unlikely to become the President.


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