New Delhi: A day after the BJP appointed Narendra Modi to lead it in the next Lok Sabha election, the veteran L.K. Advani today quit all major party posts after accusing most of its leaders of pursuing “personal agendas”.
After failing to persuade the BJP not to elevate the ambitious Gujarat chief minister, Advani, who helped the party to grow from an also-ran into a powerful entity in the 1980s, hit back by resigning from the national executive, the parliamentary board and the election committee.
In a stinging letter to Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh, Advani, 86, 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 the chief minister’s elevation at a party meet in Goa yesterday.
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 2014 Lok Sabha election.
Advani, who led the BJP in the 2009 Lok Sabha battle 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 a member of the BJP.
The resignation stunned the BJP. Most leaders — until today morning buoyed by Modi’s elevation — declined to react initially. The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological parent, called it a “very unfortunate” development.
Within an hour, however, the BJP said it would try to persuade Advani to change his mind. Rajnath Singh tweeted that he had not accepted Advani’s resignation.
Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal-United, a BJP ally in the National Democratic Alliance, said: “It is sad…It is not good for NDA’s health.”
BJP MP Shripad Naik from Goa added: “This is really unfortunate.” BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said the party was confident of asking Advani to take back the resignation.
The Congress appeared happy over the BJP war.
“The BJP has to think. The concerned person has to think. We had already said it (Modi’s elevation) will have repercussions,” said Janardan Dwivedi of the Congress.
The Karachi-born Advani and the now ill Vajpayee have been for decades the two main pillars of the BJP and its predecessor 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 helped the BJP to grow and grow.