Advani stays firm, BJP hopes to win him over

New Delhi, June 11 (IANS) The leadership crisis in the BJP entered the second day Tuesday with no sign of L.K. Advani withdrawing his resignation from party posts despite pleading from senior colleagues.

But Bharatiya Janata Party leaders said they were hopeful of persuading the veteran Advani, who Monday caused a sensation by accusing most of its leaders of pursuing “personal agendas”, to change his mind.

For a second day in running, BJP stalwarts, including Sushma Swaraj, former president Nitin Gadkari, Uma Bharti, Shahnawaz Hussain and Jaswant Singh, made a beeline to Advani’s residence here.

But there was no sign of the former deputy prime minister and one of the pillars of the BJP taking back his resignation he gave a day after Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was elevated as the party’s election campaign committee chief.

“All leaders are in touch with him, and we are hopeful that the crisis will be resolved soon and the BJP will emerge stronger,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told an army of reporters outside Advani’s house.

Jaswant Singh spoke on similar lines.

“We are trying and will succeed. I am hopeful a solution can be found,” he said.

But there was no word from Modi, who Monday said he spoke to Advani. Advani too has made no public comment since sending his stinging resignation letter to BJP president Rajnath Singh, one of the most vocal Modi backers in the party.

Advani has quit the national executive, the parliamentary board and the election committee, in apparent protest against Modi’s elevation in spite of his known objections.

The BJP, which has rejected his resignation, is trying its best to convince the patriach to change his mind so that the party’s prospects are not damaged further ahead of the Lok Sabha polls due in 2014.

On Tuesday, the BJP denied that the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), its ideological parent, was responsible for Advani’s resignation.

“I want to clarify that Sangh (RSS) has not said anything. I have spoken to them,” Rajnath Singh said here.

Media reports have said that Advani became miffed after the RSS came out in support of the the Gujarat chief minister.

Advani did not refer to Modi in his resignation but said the BJP had ceased to be “the same idealistic party” and that he was concerned over the direction it was taking.

The Modi elevation and Advani resignation have engulfed the BJP in its worst internal crisis since it was formed in 1980 in succession to the old Bharatiya Jana Sangh.

Although Modi is widely popular in the party rank and file, a section of the BJP — including in various state units — is sympathetic to Advani, who along with Atal Bihari Vajpayee were seen for decades as the face of the Jana Sangh and the BJP.

Reflecting a widely held view in the party, Shahnawaz Hussain said Tuesday: “He (Advani) has played a major role in building the party, and I am sure he will continue to bless us.”

The war within the BJP has also found an echo in the larger BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Both the Shiv Sena and the Janata Dal-United are unhappy over the manner Advani was isolated in the BJP.

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