BJP banks on Advani yet again

Party veteran appointed opposition leader in LS

The octogenarian MP from Gandhinagar, who offered to resign as Leader of Opposition for the BJP’s humiliating defeat in the general elections,  will continue in that position as he is the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha.

But the BJP in general and Advani in particular are not likely to feel too comfortable as an important NDA ally, the Janata Dal (United), on Sunday squarely blamed the stronger alliance partner for the poll debacle. JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav said on the concluding day of his party’s national executive meet that “the BJP election campaign hurt” the NDA’s electoral prospects. The BJP, however, put up a brave front with party leader M Venkaiah Naidu coming to Advani’s defence. He said that the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate alone could not be held responsible for its defeat in the polls and felt that certain issues had created a “negative impact” on the minds of the people who sought moderation.

“There are various reasons...different states behaved in different manner. It is not about leaders alone,” Naidu said. Advani who was Leader of Opposition in the 14th Lok Sabha, had earlier expressed his willingness to step down, owning moral responsibility for the BJP’s electoral drubbing. However, senior party leaders had requested him to continue. 

While Advani’s position is now secure, the BJP failed to elected its deputy leader in the Lok Sabha and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. Sunday’s meeting of the BJP’s parliamentary party authorised Advani to take the final decision on these two posts.

Addressing the first meeting of the BJP parliamentary party, Advani said the party was “deeply disappointed” by the electoral outcome which belied its “expectations.”

“We have to find out why our performance was poor in states like Rajasthan, UP, Delhi, Haryana, Uttrakhand and Orissa”, Advani said, adding: “We also have to find out why we won less than expected number of seats in states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.” Advani did not deny that the expectations from party’s support base were higher than what the party actually achieved. “But we accept the people’s verdict with humility,” he said.

“After his election as the leader, the parliamentary party has authorised Advaniji to appoint office-bearers including Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and deputy leader of both the Houses. He has also been authorised to appoint chief whips for the Houses,” senior party leader Sushma Swaraj said after the meeting.

To a question on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offering the Deputy Speaker’s post in the Lok Sabha to the Opposition, another Venkaiah Naidu said, “Advaniji has just been elected as our leader. He will take up the issue shortly.”

Advani will now have to take a final decision on whether to choose Arun Jaitley or Venkaiah Naidu for the post of the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. Earlier this week, Jaitely proposed Naidu’s name for the post of Leader of Opposition in the Upper House and the gesture was reciprocated by the latter leading to a stalemate. BJP sources claimed that Sushma Swaraj was tipped to be the Deputy leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, and S S Ahluwalia would occupy the same office in the Rajya Sabha.

‘Advani alone can’t be blamed’

Strongly defending L K Advani after BJP’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, former party vice-president Venkaiah Naidu has said that different states behaved differently and the party’s performance had nothing to do with the leader alone, reports PTI from New Delhi. “Whoever knows Advani, they all know that he is a nationalist to the core. He thinks of the entire nation, not about any section.”

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