BJP's succession knots

Updated on May 05, 2004 01:00 PM IST

Who after Vajpayee? The question has embarrased BJP in recent times.

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PTI | ByPankaj Vohra, New Delhi

The succession issue raised by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and repeated by some top BJP leaders continues to haunt the party, even after the Sangh Parivar advised the party to play down the issue.

The opposition has seized the opportunity and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, while addressing a public rally in West Bengal on Tuesday, wanted the Prime Minister to reveal to the people who his successor would be.

In fact, the whole issue has caused immense embarrassment to the BJP, which has been forced to maintain that the party had only one leader, which is Vajpayee, and that after him, everyone is equal. This could have been HRD minister Murli Manohar Joshi's objective when he stated that the succession issue would be determined at an appropriate time.

"In a party there is one, two, three. But when it comes to the NDA and the government, the deciding factor will be the political conditions and the ground realities at that time," Joshi had said.

Vajpayee and Joshi are not the only ones who have talked about succession. Even LK Advani and Pramod Mahajan have broached the subject. Mahajan spoke about the role of the RSS in determining the next leader and Advani himself, while accepting Vajpayee's leadership, said that responsibility had been delegated by the PM who created the position of a DPM.

Though there is speculation that Joshi has not been snubbed by the Sangh since polling in his constituency is slated for Wednesday, the fact remains that the Prime Minister has now chosen to look the other way.

Joshi's supporters are giving the impression that Vajpayee's silence on the subject amounted to his endorsing what the HRD minister had said and that there was actually no No. 2 within the party. Joshi is amongst the contenders for this slot. But Vajpayee may still surprise everyone by speaking out his mind on the subject.

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