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Atal sounds alarm as Rajnath takes charge

Rajnath took over formally as president of the BJP, with former prime minister calling the post ?a crown of thorns?.

india Updated: Jan 02, 2006 14:52 IST

Rajnath Singh Monday took over formally as president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee calling the post "a crown of thorns".

"The BJP chief's job is not just a post or designation but involves total dedication towards principles and duties," Vajpayee said in brief remarks at the BJP national headquarters here, in the presence of outgoing party chief L.K. Advani who quit Saturday.

And Vajpayee, who was the first president of the BJP after its formation in 1980, quickly warned: "It is a bed of thorns. It is a crown of thorns."

While describing as a "dynamic" leader Rajnath Singh who is known to enjoy the blessings of the BJP's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Vajpayee made it clear that he would continue to get "guidance" from Advani.

Earlier, Rajnath Singh said: "My priorities as president would be to keep the party's image spotless both in thought and in action, expand the party base, strengthen the NDA (BJP-led National Democratic Alliance) and continuously fight against the anti-people policies of the government."

He added: "I will work with the (cooperation of) the RSS and Sangh Parivar (RSS related bodies)."

Advani bowed out after coming under severe pressure from the RSS to resign following his controversial remarks about Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah, which irked Hindu hardliners.

Rajnatha Singh is the third party president in 15 months. M. Venkaiah Naidu stepped down from the post midway after the BJP-led NDA shockingly lost power in the parliamentary elections in May 2004.

Rajnath Singh, a former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and a former central agriculture minister, takes over as party chief at a time when the BJP faces its worst phase in recent years.

Internal fights and corruption charges have been dogging the BJP. A week ago, its general secretary Sanjay Joshi resigned over a sex scandal.

First Published: Jan 02, 2006 14:52 IST