BJP tries to bury row over Advani's TV interview

The BJP parliamentary party refrains from raising these issues in and outside the Parliament, reports Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Dec 12, 2006 22:48 IST

Seeing is believing. So top BJP leaders have decided to "bury" the row over LK Advani's interview to CNN IBN after watching its telecast Monday night, saying that media stories based on the press releases issued by the channel were more damaging than the actual interview.

BJP leaders said Advani was quoted in the media reports based on the press releases that he has not given up his claim to be projected as the Prime Minister-in-waiting ahead of the next Lok Sabha polls due in 2009.

What's more, it was also made out that Advani thinks that BJP's elder leader and former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee would not name him so even though he had named Vajpayee as BJP's PM candidate way back in 1995. Advani is unhappy that his status is reduced to that of a consultant under Rajnath Singh's presidentship.

But after seeing the interview the party leaders said they did not see why they should think that Advani has put the BJP in an awkward situation.

BJP president Rajnath Singh, who was initially unhappy over the reports of the interview, found "a lot of difference between the contexts between in which Advani had spoken and the pre-telecast transcript of the interview put out by the news channel."

He said that "the transcript (released by the channel) was nothing but a case of reporting with malicious intent. It was made out to create sensation about the programme before its telecast. May be for TRP reasons."

Rajnath called up Advani soon after the telecast to tell him that he did not see any problem with the interview while rating it as "good." Earlier in the day, Rajnath had met former PM AB Vajpayee.

Advani had told BJP leaders before the telecast to see the programme before drawing any conclusion. He spoke to Vajpayee after the telecast. Later, Advani agreed with some BJP leaders that the media reports on the interview had given an impression that he was an "old greedy man" running after the PM's post, which could have been avoided.

Other BJP leaders including Arun Jaitely and Venkaiah Naidu held that Advani had not said anything controversial if one went by the actual interview.

In Patna, former Union Minister Shatrughan Sinha backed Advani, saying he could prove himself to be a 'very good prime minister of the country.'

The BJP parliamentary party, which met on Tuesday, refrained from raising these issues. The meeting rather focused its attention on its next moves in and outside Parliament over Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's remarks about plans for minorities.

First Published: Dec 12, 2006 22:48 IST