While the lesser and younger BJP leaders squabble, L.K. Advani announced on Sunday that he — at 81 — will undertake a countrywide tour of the party apparatus to find and promote young leaders.
Advani’s talent hunt may have echoes of the one launched in the Congress by Rahul Gandhi some months ago, but it is also about his own future — he is not going away anytime soon.
He told BJP conclave delegates on Sunday: “We have a lot of young talent within the party. But I have heard many young activists tell me that they are not given opportunity to serve the party more effectively.”
“It’s sad that a certain train compartment mentality has developed. Those in posts are ignoring promising, talented and committed cadres who are standing outside and waiting for the door to open. This has to change.”
The party must “identify, train, groom and empower third, fourth and fifth generation of leaders in the BJP to take into account our needs for next 20 years”, he said.
Advani had offered to quit after the election results, in a way taking responsibility for the defeat. But he was persuaded to stay on by second-rung leaders as they could not agree on his successor.
Now, he is staying to ensure a smooth transition.
With new RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat not averse to his plan for a smoother transfer of leadership in the BJP, Advani ignored Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, who had criticised him for his post-poll decisions, particularly appointing Arun Jaitely as Rajya Sabha leader.
Snubbing hardliners who had backed Varun Gandhi’s hate speeches, Advani said the BJP’s links with the RSS would stay but the party would not pursue a “narrow and bigoted” Hindutva and reach out to the minorities.
Advani told BJP critics that they were free to flay the party’s decisions and analyse its shortcomings but “they should not air their critical views in public”.