Sidelined BJP veterans LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi looked increasingly isolated on Thursday with little support from colleagues after they blamed the party’s top leadership for the Bihar poll fiasco.
Other than the party’s Bihar parliamentarians Shatrughan Sinha and Bhola Singh, it was all quiet on the dissent front since the two stalwarts along with Yashwant Sinha and former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Shanta Kumar set off pre-Diwali fireworks with a stinging statement against the leadership.
The party was silent on any action against the leaders for their public criticism while finance minister Arun Jaitley made “personal” visits to Advani’s home on Diwali and called on Joshi, too, a day later.
A senior leader said efforts would be made to reach out to the veterans. “The focus is entirely on putting the house in order. Everybody is advised to raise their concerns at the right forum.”
The four veterans, sidelined since Narendra Modi came to power, said in their statement on Tuesday that the organisation has been “emasculated” in the past year and was being “forced to kowtow to a handful” — an oblique reference to the Prime Minister and BJP chief Amit Shah.
The RSS, the party’s ideological mentor, was silent on the debacle. BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, an RSS man until Modi came to power in 2014, said any suggestion from the veterans was welcome but they should choose an appropriate forum for that.
Shatrughan Sinha continued his rant, as did Bhola Singh, the MP for Begusarai. In a series of tweets, Sinha dismissed that he said results would have been different had he been projected as the CM candidate, but reiterated that his supporters were let down at the “Bihari babu” being kept away from campaigning.
Singh said the poll outcome proved the Modi magic is not durable. “The situation emerging during parliamentary elections had helped Modi magic create an impression among voters... but it is nowhere seen now when the situation has become normal,” he said.
In a veiled attack on Shah, he said the top leadership was seen “surrounded by sycophants”.
Union minister Nitin Gadkari demanded stringent action against those making irresponsible statements and damaging the party’s image. “Modi and Shah alone can’t be held responsible for the party’s poor show in Bihar,” he said on Thursday.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s backroom boy, Prashant Kishor, created flutters in the national capital as he met Arun Shourie, another dissident BJP leader. Kishor clarified that he was calling on an old friend.
A day after Sunday’s poll outcome, the BJP tried to insulate the leadership under a collective responsibility cloak to deflect barbs from the within the party for the Bihar humiliation. The veterans refused to accept the party line that the blame should be shared.
“It shows that those who would have appropriated credit if the party had won are bent on shrugging off responsibility for the disastrous showing in Bihar,” their statement reads, an attack without taking names on Bihar campaign spearhead Modi and strategist Shah.