Senior BJP leader LK Advani said no one was sure whether the UPA would last its full term in office or the next Lok Sabha elections due in 2014 would be held early because of an “air of uncertainty” caused by the performance and decisions taken by the government.
Answering questions at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Advani avoided responding directly when asked if he would be the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in the next polls. He also refused to comment on social activist Anna Hazare’s suggestion of public flogging to end problems of alcoholism.
Earlier, in his keynote address, Advani referred to posers to him on whether his recent Jan Chetna Yatra was to re-package himself for the top slot. “I had said then, why should I need to repackage myself. The yatra was less to do with me or even the BJP and more about the ills of the country.”
Asked about his opinion on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Advani said one reason why the PM was not able to exercise all the authority vested in his office was his adoption of the Communist model of governance in which the party chief is supreme. As per this model, he said, the party chief is more important than the prime minister or the president.
On Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Advani said, “We cannot have a number one in a democracy whom many people don’t know.”
Asked whether Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi needed to repackage himself, Advani said, “He is a remarkable administrator and an excellent political leader…I don’t think he needs to be rebranded. I have not seen any leader as much wrongly maligned as Narendra Modi.”
On referring to frequent disruptions of Parliament on the issue of foreign direct investment in retail, Advani said he felt sad whenever Parliament did not function. “I feel sad when Parliament does not function. But I do not understand why the government decided on it (FDI in retail) when it knew there would be opposition to it,” he said.
Advani also referred to the comments of Hazare and his supporters that the government had decided to introduce FDI in retail because it didn’t want to bring the lokpal bill. “I don’t know (whether it is true),” he, however, added.