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Forlorn Advani exits in tears

When Advani delivered his last address as BJP President, the distress could not be hidden, writes Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Dec 31, 2005 10:53 IST

L.K. Advani had not shed a tear when he announced his decision to quit at the BJP's Chennai meet. But when he delivered his last address as BJP president at the special silver jubilee convention on Friday, the distress could not be hidden.

With a voice choking with tears, he warned, "The painful events in our party in the last 25 weeks (read since his visit to Pakistan) are the result not of our failings as an organisation but as individuals." Vajpayee, who had heard him on every occasion of this kind, was not on the stage.

Advani began by saying "There is nothing wrong with BJP as a party or as an organization but as individuals we have a number of weaknesses that have to be shed."

Advani said his advice to BJP men was not to believe what other parties and the media were saying about the party's future. "They've already written our epitaph. The party is over, they say."

Venkaiah defends mentor

BJP vice-president M. Venkaiah Naidu did not lose the opportunity to swear his loyalty to Advani and called a spade a spade, even if it came to the RSS.

If Advani was the BJP's 'Ram', as the former PM declared, there were many 'Laxmans' and not just one as named by Vajpayee, he said.

Alluding to criticism from RSS and VHP leaders that the BJP had not done enough on the Ram temple issue, Naidu said, "How can they say we have not anything for Ram temple? How can anyone say Advani is not Ram bhakt?”

On the other hand, another vice-president, Bal Apte, read the Sangh's message to the BJP. "We come to change politics and get changed by the politics of the day. What is the relevance of our party if we are not different and stand by our ideology?"

First Published: Dec 31, 2005 02:30 IST