Shimla: The three-day brainstorming session of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ended on Friday with the party declaring that its octogenarian leader L.K. Advani would lead the party for the next five years.
India’s main opposition party also deferred a decision on an action plan for the next meeting of its national executive and steered clear of fixing accountability for the 2009 election defeat but issued a stern warning to those opting to defy the party leadership.
Referring to the expulsion of senior leader Jaswant Singh after the publication of his controversial biography of Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, BJP president Rajnath Singh said at a press conference, “There will be no compromise on discipline.”
Back to basics: BJP president Rajnath Singh in Shimla on Friday. PTI
The right-wing party also indicated it would remain committed to its ideological roots and would lean on its parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS, for guidance on important issues. “We will stick to the political ideology on the basis of which the party was founded and will continue to do so in future. Our ideology of cultural nationalism and integral humanism is non-negotiable,” said Singh, who heads the party organization.
Singh announced that Advani would continue to lead the party. “He is our leader and he will continue to be our leader,” he said, adding that the BJP plans to reach out to the weaker section, the poor, middle class, women and other deprived sections in society.
Singh reiterated that he is to be held accountable for the failure of the party in the Lok Sabha polls.
The simmering distrust within the leadership was evident on Friday with Advani deputing his trusted lieutenant Sushma Swaraj to brief the press about his concluding address at the party meet.
Swaraj, who held her briefing just before Rajnath Singh, said Advani was of the view that the BJP lost its considerable support base in the last decade and needed to strengthen its presence in many parts of the country.
“People in important positions in the party need to present an ideal example by their conduct in public life...the image of the party has suffered in the eyes of a common worker,” Advani said.
He added that the decision to expel Jaswant Singh was both painful and necessary. Referring to Singh’s statement that Vallabhai Patel had banned the RSS and was not core to the BJP’s ideology, Advani said it was at Jawaharlal Nehru’s behest that Patel banned the RSS.
Party insiders said there were heated arguments on the second day of the deliberation and finger-pointing was rampant among the senior leaders during discussions.
Advani on Friday said alliances were necessary for the BJP to break the hegemony of Congress rule. Analysts said the BJP’s expulsion of Jaswant Singh on the first day of the “chintan baithak” was a tactic to divert attention from the party’s core problems.
“BJP and its leaders never expected any result out of this exercise. The party by nature has to fall back on RSS for guidance. The expulsion of Jaswant (Singh) on the first day was part of the strategy to divert attention from its internal problems,” said Jyotirmaya Sharma, a professor of political science in Hyderabad University.