BJP leaders say `no crisis`, try to placate Advani

Sushma Swaraj rebutted claims of crisis in the BJP and said the party will move forward with the blessings of Advani.

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Even as the top BJP brigade tries to pacify veteran leader LK Advani who stepped down from all his party positions following the elevation of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as election campaign committee chief, Sushma Swaraj tweeted late on Monday night that the party was united.

Sushma Swaraj, who is the leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, rebutted claims of crisis in the BJP and said the party will move forward with the blessings of Advani.

Sushma`s remarks came after Monday evening`s BJP parliamentary board meet where Advani`s resignation was rejected.

"The parliamentary board decided to reject the resignation of Shri Advaniji," Rajnath Singh told reporters after the meeting at his official residence here.

Singh said he will not accept Advani`s resignation under any circumstance.

Advani has resigned from the posts in BJP election committee, and parliamentary board and the party`s national executive.

Former BJP president Nitin Gadkari and Uma Bharti are at Advani`s residence to meet the leader.

On Monday also, several party leaders including Sushma Swaraj met Advani through the day to persuade him to withdraw his resignation. Some party leaders also met him after the meeting of the parliamentary board.

Sushma Swaraj is considered close to Advani.

"BJP parliamentary board has rejected the resignation of Advaniji. There is no crisis in BJP," Sushma Swaraj said in a tweet. "We are all united. We are all one. We will move forward with the blessings of Advaniji," she added.

Advani`s stunning decision, if not reversed, is bound to have a bearing on the acceptance of Modi as the BJP`s prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections.

From Gujarat, Modi, 62, made a passionate appeal to Advani to take back his resignation and appealed to the elder not to disappoint "lakhs" of party activists. But Advani refused to budge.

Advani, who helped the party to grow from an also-ran into a powerful entity in the 1980s and gave it its hardline Hindutva ideology, had failed to dissuade the BJP from elevating the ambitious Gujarat chief minister to the chief campaigner of the party.

In a stinging letter to Rajnath Singh that was made public, Advani said he found it "difficult to reconcile either with the current functioning of the party or the direction in which it is going".

The three-para letter made no reference to Modi, who for years enjoyed Advani`s patronage, but its tone made it evident that the resignation was linked to his elevation at a party meet in Goa Sunday.

The decision to name Modi head of the election campaign committee would have made the Gujarat chief minister - the BJP`s best known Hindutva icon - its virtual face in the Lok Sabha elections.

Advani, who led the BJP in the 2009 General Elections which it lost, kept away from the Goa national executive meet citing poor health.

"For some time I have been finding it difficult to reconcile either with the current functioning of the party, or the direction in which it is going," said Advani, increasingly overshadowed in the BJP by second-rung leaders.

He said he no longer had "the feeling that this is the same idealistic party" formed in 1951 by Shyama Prasad Mookerji, Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Nanaji Deshmukh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee "whose sole concern was the country and its people".

"Most leaders of ours are now concerned just with their personal agendas," said Advani, in one of the harshest condemnation of BJP leaders by anyone within, bringing its internal rift out in the open.

"I have decided, therefore, to resign from the three main fora of the party: national executive, parliamentary board and the election committee. This may be regarded as my resignation letter."

Advani remains an ordinary member of the BJP.

The resignation stunned the BJP. The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the BJP`s ideological parent, called it a "very unfortunate" development.

The BJP`s allies were worried. Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav said: "It is sad... It is not good for NDA`s health."

JD-U leader KC Tyagi added: "It is tough for us to remain a part of the NDA now that the BJP`s tallest leader is gone."

Congress spokesperson Renuka Choudhary said: "I`m not surprised. BJP is politically bankrupt, they have sidelined people responsible for building it."

Former BJP leader Ram Jethmalani backed Modi and attacked Advani and told a news channel that "he (Advani) has gone senile".

(With IANS inputs)