Leader of the Opposition LK Advani has told BJP MPs that infighting in the party is affecting its image at a time when the BJP stock is going up because of issues like the violence in Nandigram, developments in Karnataka, terror attacks in Uttar Pradesh, the Taslima Nasreen affair, price rise and the plight of farmers.
Though this is not the first time Advani has talked about the problem of open infighting in the party, BJP leaders said he had in mind the increased dissidence in poll-bound Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, where the party’s has often taken a beating.
Also, Advani’s assertion before the BJP parliamentary party has come after the RSS brass told him recently to take more active interest in the BJP’s organisation to help strengthen party president Rajnath Singh’s management of party affairs.
With former prime minister A.B. Vajpayee indisposed, the Sangh leaders have conveyed to him that he should shed his “aloofness” from the BJP’s organisational matters – a position he had adopted after his exit as party chief in early 2006 in the wake of the controversy over his remark on Jinnah in Pakistan.
Advani told the BJP parliamentary party on Tuesday that the BJP’s image as a disciplined party was better than those of other parties and the manner in which it had taken up recent issues had seen its ratings go up.
But, he said, the BJP's image is sullied when reports come out about "infighting" in the party, and asked office bearers and MPs present at the meeting to guard against dissidence. “All our efforts will go in vain if we cannot stop infighting. We must concentrate on issues that boost the BJP.”
Advani wanted the party to act unitedly, said the BJP’s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha V.K. Malhotra. Other BJP leaders said Advani was concerned about the party’s prospects in Gujarat where leaders opposed to Chief Minister Narendra Modi's style of functioning have raised a banner of revolt.
In Rajasthan, the CM, Vasundhara Raje, is facing open dissidence, with the rebels being backed by senior leader Jaswant Singh. In Delhi, BJP secretary Vijay Goel has resigned in protest against extension of the tenure of Delhi unit chief Harsh Vardhan.
Meanwhile, Malhotra alleged that Home Minister Shivraj Patil merely read out a report sent by the Tarun Gogoi government on Monday’s violence in Guwahati and slammed the omission of the stripping of an Adivasi woman as “objectionable” and “condemnable”. He also dubbed as "strange" the Central government's late night move to shift Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen to an undisclosed location and sought to know her whereabouts.