BJP needs young blood: RSS

BJP needs young blood: RSS

Asks leadership to stop squabbling forthwith

L K Advani arrives to attend party's 'Chintan Baithak', to discuss reasons behind the Lok Sabha poll debacle, in Shimla on Tuesday. PTI

Asking the BJP to appoint a younger successor to L K Advani, the RSS on Tuesday surmised that a new leader for the party could well be a dark horse.

In a wide-ranging and candid interview to a television channel ahead of the chintan baithak on Wednesday to figure out reasons for the party’s electoral debacle, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat expressed distress at the infighting and factionalism within the BJP, otherwise known for its organisational discipline and cohesiveness.

Asked whether the new leader could emerge outside the four potential candidates –– Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh and Venkaiah Naidu –– the RSS leader said: “Yes, why not? There is no dearth of talent in the party.”

Advani’s successor

He called upon the BJP to look to the future and appoint a younger successor to Advani. Bhagwat felt the average age of the leader who would succeed Advani could be between 55 and 60, but not above 60. Advani’s arch rival, former party president Murli Manohar Joshi, welcomed the RSS chief’s views, saying “he has every right to advise the party.”
Bhagwat disputed the claim  that it was the RSS that had asked Advani to continue as Leader of  Opposition and not to quit. He said it was Advani who told him that the party leaders had insisted that he (Advani) should remain in his post.

Bhagwat’s comments came even as Advani, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and senior leaders Jaswant Singh, Rajnath Singh, Swaraj, Jaitley and others reached Shimla in Himachal Pradesh for the chintan baithak.  Dissenting leaders Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie have not been invited to in the meeting. Sinha has already resigned from all party posts protesting party’s lack of interest in examining the real cause of the party’s defeat.

In a similar vein, Shourie had also lashed out at the leadership for not giving proper thought to the major issues bedeviling the party.  Recently, a rebellious former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje demanded that an “accountability clause” be made applicable for all top leaders who led the party in the Lok Sabha election.

Raje has refused to step down as Leader of Opposition in defiance of the party president’s directives.

The ideological disarray within the party was further accentuated this week with the release of senior party leader Jaswant Singh’s book that describes Pakistan’s Mohammed Ali Jinnah as “a great leader”.

On Tuesday, the saffron party completely dissociated itself with the views expressed in the book  Jinnah – India, Partition, Independence.

In a statement, party president Rajnath Singh said: “The book does not represent the views of the Bharatiya Janata Party. In fact, the party completely dissociates itself from the contents of the book”.

The statement further said: “The important role of M A Jinnah in the division of India, which led to a lot of dislocation and destabilisation of millions of people, is too well-known. We cannot wish away this painful part of our history. Sardar Patel played a historic role in the unification and consolidation of India amidst serious threats to its unity and integrity. The entire country remains indebted and proud of the profound vision, courage and leadership of Sardar Patel.”

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