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Advani stands by Jaitley
Asks party leaders to refrain from criticism in public
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 21
The BJP concluded its two-day national executive with Leader of Opposition LK Advani acknowledging the growing restiveness in the party over the defeat but appealing to leaders to refrain from public criticism.

Sources said as Advani rose to speak at the Parliament Annexe today, senior dissenting leader Jaswant Singh, hurt over media leaks against him, left the meeting. Party leader M Venkaiah Naidu failed to react when asked about this. He was addressing the media on the day’s developments.

Advani commenced his speech by congratulating controversial leader Arun Jaitley and others, whom he has recently appointed office-bearers of the BJP parliamentary party. This was a clear rebuff to leaders like Jaswant Singh, Arun Shourie, Yashwant Sinha and others who sought fixing of Jaitley’s responsibility and demanded this in the national executive as well.

He said, “The only constraint on the participants in this exercise, which is a part of BJP’s culture of discipline, is that they should not air their critical views in public.”

The octogenarian BJP leader also announced his intent to set out on yet another yatra saying “I have decided to tour the entire country in the months to come. I shall be visiting all states and more than one place in some of the bigger states.”

He further contributed to the current BJP/RSS attempt to project Hindutva as soft and benign. Quoting former RSS chief Balasaheb Deoras, Advani said, “Let every Indian citizen, irrespective of the faith to which he belongs, know that the BJP’s understanding of Hindutva is fully in accord with the unanimous judgement given by the three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court on December 11, 1995.”

But Advani’s speech was preceded by sharp exchanges between its two Muslim leaders Mukhatar Abbas Naqvi and Shahnawaz Husain, supported significantly by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chohan, Maharashtra leader Gopinath Munde and of all the people Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on the one side, and Aonla MP and mother of Varun Gandhi Maneka Gandhi on the other.

Yesterday, Maneka Gandhi, while accusing Jaitley (in charge of party affairs in UP) of not aiding the candidates properly, had wondered why some leaders in the party were suddenly cribbing about the loss of Muslim votes in the wake of the controversial speech by her son and Pilibhit MP Varun. She is reported to have said, “When did the Muslims and Christians vote for us?”

Today, during the discussion on the political resolution, Naqvi rose to say, “Though Muslims do not vote for us in large numbers, whenever Muslim and other votes get consolidated against us, we lose. Many Hindus also do not vote for us,” he said adding, “Will we slaughter them, will we drive them out of the country?” he said. Husain, too, spoke in the same spirit.

The sources said Modi supported the Muslim duo saying, “When we govern and administer we cannot discriminate between Hindus and Muslims or any other community or caste.” Chohan and Modi spoke in the same vein.

Interestingly, Ravi Shankar Prasad, who drafted and moved the political resolution, omitted any mention of the NDA alliance partners in it. This in spite of the fact that several members inside complained of NDA partners giving them a stepmotherly treatment in states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Punjab and Haryana.

Prasad had raised this issue yesterday accusing the JD-U in Jharkhand of cross-voting for UPA Rajya Sabha candidates, resulting in the defeat of two BJP candidates. He had cited the instance of how Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik discarded the BJP after using it and warned that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar could do the same during the forthcoming state Assembly elections.

However, today he refused to comment when asked directly why he omitted any comment on the role of NDA allies in the political resolution.

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