BJP in crisis over Advani resignation shocker

New Delhi, June 10 (IANS) The BJP plunged into a crisis Monday, barely a day after it named Narendra Modi to lead its campaign in the next Lok Sabha elections, with the veteran L.K. Advani declaring he was quitting all major party posts and accusing most BJP leaders of pursuing "personal agendas". The party rejected his resignation.

Advani's stunning decision, if not reversed, is bound to have a bearing on the acceptance of Modi as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. By evening, the BJP's top leaders were huddled with Advani at his residence, trying to persuade him to change his mind.

With its rift out in the open, an embarrassed Bharatiya Janata Party hurriedly called a meeting of its parliamentary board, one of the three bodies from which Advani resigned, the others being the national executive and the election committee.

"The parliamentary board decided to reject the resignation of Shri Advaniji," party president Rajnath Singh told reporters after a meeting of the board at his official residence here.

Rajnath Singh said he will not accept Advani's resignation under any circumstance.

Some of the leaders went to meet Advani, 86, after the parliamentary board meeting to persuade him to withdraw his resignation.

From Gujarat, Modi, 62, made a passionate appeal to Advani to take back his resignation and appealed to the elder not to disappoint "lakhs" of party activists. But Advani refused to budge.

Advani, who helped the party to grow from an also-ran into a powerful entity in the 1980s and gave it its hardline Hindutva ideology, had failed to dissuade the BJP from elevating the ambitious Gujarat chief minister to the chief campaigner of the party.

In a stinging letter to Rajnath Singh that was made public, Advani said he found it "difficult to reconcile either with the current functioning of the party or the direction in which it is going".

The three-para letter made no reference to Modi, who for years enjoyed Advani's patronage, but its tone made it evident that the resignation was linked to his elevation at a party meet in Goa Sunday.

The decision to name Modi head of the election campaign committee would have made the Gujarat chief minister - the BJP's best known Hindutva icon - its virtual face in the Lok Sabha elections.

Advani, who led the BJP in the 2009 general elections which it lost, kept away from the Goa national executive meet citing poor health.

"For some time I have been finding it difficult to reconcile either with the current functioning of the party, or the direction in which it is going," said Advani, increasingly overshadowed in the BJP by second-rung leaders.

He said he no longer had "the feeling that this is the same idealistic party" formed in 1951 by Shyama Prasad Mookerji, Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Nanaji Deshmukh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee "whose sole concern was the country and its people".

"Most leaders of ours are now concerned just with their personal agendas," said Advani, in one of the harshest condemnation of BJP leaders by anyone within, bringing its internal rift out in the open.

"I have decided, therefore, to resign from the three main fora of the party: national executive, parliamentary board and the election committee. This may be regarded as my resignation letter."

Advani remains an ordinary member of the BJP.

The resignation stunned the BJP. The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the BJP's ideological parent, called it a "very unfortunate" development.

The BJP's allies were worried. Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav said: "It is sad... It is not good for NDA's health."

JD-U leader K.C. Tyagi added: "It is tough for us to remain a part of the NDA now that the BJP's tallest leader is gone."

Congress spokesperson Renuka Choudhary said: "I'm not surprised. BJP is politically bankrupt, they have sidelined people responsible for building it."

Former BJP leader Ram Jethmalani backed Modi and attacked Advani and told a news channel that "he (Advani) has gone senile".

The Karachi-born Advani, who some years ago fell out ideologically with the party core for suggesting that Mohammad Ali Jinnah had a secular vision for Pakistan, and the now ailing Vajpayee have been for decades the two pillars of the BJP and its earlier incarnation, Bharatiya Jana Sangh.

Advani joined the RSS in 1947 and the Jana Sangh when it was founded in 1951. He became the BJP president in 1986, when it had only two members in the Lok Sabha, and soon became a strong votary of the Ram temple movement, which culminated in the demolition of the Babri Mosque in 1992.

The Ram temple campaign helped the BJP to grow and grow, until it finally took power nationally in 1998 as head of a coalition.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Royal test for Kings

Royal test for Kings

Preview — Clash of philosophies between Australia-centric teams More »

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

The Nawab of Najafgarh says a good run in IPL could help his chances of a comeback on India's tour to England in June. More »

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Furious fifties by Duminy and Dinesh Karthik end a long losing streak for the Daredevils. More »

Five things England must do to bounce back

Five things England must do to bounce back

England have appointed a new head coach in Peter Moores. More »

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

Royal Challengers overcame a stutter to cruise to the small target they were set by Mumbai Indians. More »

‘Felt like helpless minority’

‘Felt like helpless minority’

Former BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke says emotions got the better of the Srinivasan and he tried to oversimplify things by calling Meiyappan an “enthusia… More »

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

Kevin Pietersen's hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when ECB managing director Paul Downton said there was 'no way back'… More »

The world record that nearly wasn't

The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

His status as president of TNCA makes him eligible to attend the Working Committee meeting on Sunday. More »

Moores gets second stint as coach

Moores gets second stint as coach

In a two-year spell from 2007 to 2009, the 51-year-old Moores led England in seven Test series. More »

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh's senior players will have three sessions with a psychological skill development coach later this month More »

Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone … More »

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

Dalmiya feels that Srinivasan’s ‘power hungry’ attitude isn’t helping matters. More »

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

The 36-year-old believes the T20 format and rule changes in 50-over matches have made a real difference. More »

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

BCCI members want independent probe

BCCI members want independent probe

The board members are realising after the Supreme Court's observations that something has to be done — IS Bindra More »

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Preview — The threat of Sunil Narine looms large again. More »

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Preview — Given the firepower in both line-ups, Dubai crowd may see another high-scorer More »

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Stressed Trott stands down again

Stressed Trott stands down again

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday confirmed that batsman Jonathan Trott is to take another break from all cricket with immediate eff… More »

PCB starts another coach hunt

PCB starts another coach hunt

The PCB has decided to not extend the contracts of head coach Moin Khan, fielding coach Shoaib Mohammad and batting consultant Zaheer Abbas, and has invited… More »