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Advani unhappy with BJP's handling of Karnataka

New Delhi, May 12, 2013 (PTI): 21:30 IST
LK Advani. DH photo
With the BJP still smarting under the debacle in Karnataka, senior leader L K Advani today slammed the party's handling of the state's affairs as "absolutely opportunistic", saying the election result has not come as a surprise.

Advani said BJP's response to the crisis there was "not at all a minor indiscretion" and the verdict served as a lesson to both his party and Congress about not "taking common man for granted".

"Our response to Karnataka crisis was not at all a minor indiscretion. I have consistently maintained that our handling of Karnataka has been absolutely opportunistic," he said.

The veteran leader had pushed for taking swift action in dumping former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa in the wake of corruption charges against him but the party instead dilly-dallied and was seen placating him. The Karnataka strongman finally parted ways and formed his own outfit.

On the removal of Union Ministers--P K Bansal and Ashwani Kumar, Advani cited reports of Sonia Gandhi 'sacking' two 'PM's men' and questioned if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had "abdigated" his right to decide his own Cabinet.

"Sheer self-respect demands that the PM calls it a day, and orders an early general election," he said. Soon after Kumar had put in his papers on Friday, Advani had demanded that Singh should also follow suit since Kumar was protecting him in Coalgate.

Congress has, however, dismissed reports that the action against the two was taken at the insistence of Gandhi and said it was a "joint decision" of the Prime Minister and Gandhi.

Advani wondered that if corruption provoked indignation in Bangalore why would it not cause the same feeling in Delhi.

"I feel sorry that we have lost in Karnataka. But I am not surprised. The surprise would have been if we had won," Advani said on his blog.
He said, "I think the Karnataka results have a profound lesson for the BJP. In a way it has a lesson also for the Congress. The common lesson for both of us is : let's not take the common man for granted."

On the party's handling of corruption during Yeddyurappa's regime, Advani said had BJP taken immediate firm action, "the course of events would have been quite different".

"But for several months, frantic efforts went on somehow to keep placating him by condoning his peccadiloes," the BJP veteran said. He said that BJP did not throw out Yeddyurappa but it was he who broke away to form his own party.

The BJP leader felt the Karnataka results contributed to clinching action of sacking of ministers in connection with Coalgate and Railgate, as Congress "seemed determined not to do anything about the two scams even if it meant a total washout of the second half of the Budget Session" of Parliament.

He referred to the reports that how Sonia Gandhi overlooked "shortcomings" in Virbhadra Singh and earned an advantage in Himachal Pradesh, but BJP took pride in taking a principled stand in Karnataka by finally easing out Yeddyurappa as chief minister.

"The consequence is that BJP has lost even the toehold it had acquired in the south," he said.

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