On AB Vajpyee’s birthday, Advani admits differences
New Delhi: Senior BJP leader LK Advani has
said he had some political differences with his long time
colleague and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpyee
especially on the Ayodha movement and the removal of Gujarat
Chief Minister Narendra Modi after the Godhra riots.
"He (Vajpayee) had reservations about the BJP getting
directly associated with the Ayodha movement. But he accepted
the collective decision of the party - showing that he was a
thorough democrat, by conviction and temperament," Advani said
in an article on Vajpayee, who turned 86 today.
BJP and, especially Advani, had strongly objected to the
recent indictment of Vajpayee by the Liberhan Commission for
the Babri Masjid demolition in December 1992.
The other instance mentioned by Advani where the two
senior leaders did not see eye to eye was on the issue of
removal of Modi after the riots in Gujarat that followed the
Godhra train incident.
"Atalji was among those in the party who thought that
Modi should be asked to quit. I was convinced, after talking
to a large number of people in Gujarat, that Modi was being
unfairly targeted. He was in my opinion more sinned against
than sinning," Advani said.
However, Advani, who was in jail with Vajpayee during
the Emergency and later served as Deputy Prime Minister
in the Vajpayee government, praised his senior as a man who
"would never go ahead with an idea if he knew that I had a
different view on the same."
Vajpayee had reportedly told his party colleagues after
the Gujarat riots that as the Chief Minister, Modi had not
done enough to control the violence.
This was recently recalled by senior BJP leader Arun
Shourie in an interview where he said that Vajpayee had asked
him to talk to Advani on Modi's removal. Shourie quoted Advani
as saying this would create a upheaval.
In the article written for the Indian Express, Advani said
Vajpayee's oratorial skills gave him a complex which he
suffered for several years.
"Atalji, in fact, developed within me a complex which
stuck on for many years - that I cannot deliver a public
speech, although I may be able to draft resolutions and write
article - a complex that made me resist the offer to become
the party president in 1972," Advani said.
Advani gave credit to his Rath Yatra of 1990 as part of
the Ayodhya movement for BJP's "meteoric" growth which led to
bi-polar polity in the country. However, he accused the media
of labelling him a Hindu hardliner while projecting Vajpayee
as a liberal after the yatra.
He said a section of the party felt that this projection
of a liberal leader and a hardliner would help BJP.