Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Rajnath Singh on Wednesday ducked LK Advani’s criticism of his management of the Uttar Pradesh election and the party, and welcomed his advice to consult his seniors and draw up corrective measures for the party.
“Whatever he has said lies in the party’s interest,” Rajnath said, responding to media queries about his reaction to Advani’s statement a day earlier. “His remarks are aimed at strengthening the party. I welcome them wholeheartedly,” he added.
Advani had told Rajnath, who has been criticised by the party leaders after the party’s poor showing in UP, to draw up a task sheet detailing immediate corrective action both at the central and state levels.
However, Rajnath’s aides said he would rather concentrate on the revival of the party from the booth-level and a campaign would be launched from July to September in which even senior leaders would be involved. They also said he could not be held solely responsible for the ills of the party in UP when top leaders had been apprised of the actual state of affairs since the 2004 Lok Sabha polls. Besides, they said,
Rajnath was not responsible for the projection of Kalyan Singh, who had lost his appeal after his exit from the BJP and subsequent return after hobnobbing with Mulayam Singh Yadav as the party’s chief ministerial candidate.
The choice of an “unimpressive” Kesari Nath Tripathi as state BJP chief and Lalji Tandon as the party’s face in the state assembly was also not of his making, they added.
The knives had been out for Rajnath as soon as the news of the BJP’s drubbing had got out. Even as the BJP’s parliamentary board had assessed the damage, Rajnath had refused to take the blame. Some senior leaders, however, had not minced words in blaming him for what they called a “deliberate” absence of a clear strategy to project the party as the real alternative to the Mulayam government.