Senior BJP leader LK Advani’s comments on the party’s performance in the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls are being seen by many as a feeble attempt to shift the blame to party president Rajnath Singh, though he and his confidantes are as much to blame.
Many experts believe the questions posed by the Leader of the Opposition, who was at the helm of affairs in the party for so long, should be answered by him alone. His comments are also seen as an indication of a fierce power struggle within the BJP.
Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti says Advani should tell everyone why his assessment of the polls went wrong. “He travelled extensively, campaigning for the party’s nominees, and had maintained that the BJP would get anywhere near 120 seats. Why would the people of UP view the BJP as an alternative to the Samajwadi Party when it was nothing else but a poor photocopy of the Mulayam Singh government,” she asked.
Professor Sudha Pai of the Jawaharlal Nehru University said that “by indicating that the party should prepare itself for the 2009 parliamentary polls, Advani is, in fact, suggesting a change of leadership before that. There is a power struggle and the Advani faction wants to be on centrestage once again. He wants to be the prime minister and wants the party to project him so ahead of the big election.”
Many believe Advani should know why the party did not emerge as the real alternative to the SP. “During the last national executive in Lucknow, senior BJP leaders were made state guests by Mulayam Singh Yadav. People also saw how UP BJP president Kesarinath Tripathi helped Mulayam during the defection by BSP MLAs while performing his role as Speaker.
Advani’s handpicked people Venkaiah Naidu, Ananth Kumar and Gopinath Munde were made pointspersons for the polls while senior leaders like Ram Prakash Tripath, Mahesh Dutt Sharma, Kalraj Mishra, Murali Manohar Joshi and Atal Behari Vajpayee were made to play secondary roles,” a senior BJP leader said.
Professor Pai said Advani, by his remarks, was trying to embarrass Rajnath. “The BJP is a divided house and there was enough evidence of that in the polls. The RSS leadership had replaced Advani as president with Rajnath Singh for his pro-Jinnah remarks.”
Bharti said the BJP in UP had failed because it had no concrete plan. “Kalyan Singh’s second stint as chief minister saw criminals and corrupt persons being part of his cabinet. People saw no difference between the government headed by him and Mulayam, who, in any case, is also an enemy of the Kar Sewaks.
Then, Advani’s remarks on Jinnah had not gone down well with the people. They are blaming the RSS but the RSS can only provide logistics or support. It cannot draw out the political strategy for the BJP. The BJP needs to introspect and Advani in particular must answer why he has done to the party what he should not have done. Rajnath was a very poor choice as president since he is great liability and a big burden.”