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I regret taking up BJP chief's post: Advani

The former BJP chief said that his statement on Jinnah in Pakistan was made out of conviction.

india Updated: Jan 07, 2006 00:07 IST

Barely a week after stepping down, an 'unrepentant' former BJP president LK Advani has said that his statement on Jinnah was made out of conviction and it was a mistake to have withdrawn his resignation after his return from Pakistan.

Conceding there was still some communication gap between him and the Sangh fountainhead, the Leader of Opposition reiterated the point he made at the party's Chennai national executive that "lately things have happened, which give the impression that the BJP cannot take a decision unless it is endorsed by RSS."

Interestingly, in the same breath Advani said, "By and large BJP takes its own decisions. Consultations we do have but the RSS does not tell us, do this or don't do that."

"I withdrew my resignation because the party passed a unanimous resolution asking me to take it back. Perhaps it was a mistake to withdraw it. I should not have done that. I sometimes think I would have been better off if, first, I had not accepted the presidentship and second, if I had not taken back my resignation," he said in an interview to a news magazine.

Asked whether what he said in Pakistan was out of conviction or was he overwhelmed by the reception there, Advani said, "it was my conviction. After all, I had said that even before I had gone to Pakistan".

On what went wrong if he had only repeated an old speech, he said, "newspaper headlines and television sound bytes. "Jinnah secular, says Advani" - that is the stuff that will shock. For the first time in my life I found that I was out of tune with my ideological family."

"My greater regret is that my party missed a golden opportunity. After all, I was the person who was the personification of everything that is against Pakistan, against Muslims.

"Suddenly, every political party, from the Muslim League to the MQM to the PPP, was wooing me -- come to us. That means, they felt "here is a person who is proud of his Hindutva, who thinks that India is what it is today because of its Hindu culture," he said.

Maintaining he did not say Jinnah was the most secular, the former BJP chief said, "I did not go to Pakistan as a scholar or a historian. I went to promote the dialogue which was started by us and carried forward by this Government. When they invited me I thought that though I was the Leader of the Opposition, they felt I could play a role in that and my task was to promote this further."

Asked whether he felt let down by the party, he said, "it is my failure to communicate. I do not feel let down by the party."

Describing 2005 as "one of my best years", Advani said, "when I look back, I identify two landmark events in my entire political career. First, the Rath Yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya. Second, the six-day trip to Pakistan. And during both, I had a feeling I was making history.

"The Rath Yatra yielded immediate dividends for the party. As for the Pakistan trip, a few years down the line, there will be people who will think that what Advani did then had strengthened his cause, his party and raised his esteem in the people's eyes."

Asserting he did not resign under pressure, Advani said, "I resigned because I felt it was the appropriate occasion."

He attributed the party's debacle in the Lok Sabha elections in 2004 to "complacency and overconfidence" and conceded that the 'India Shining' slogan was perhaps "inappropriate".

The former party president also praised Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi saying, "despite the calumny that has been heaped on Narendra Modi in Gujarat, he has been able to show results."

First Published: Jan 06, 2006 20:37 IST