New Delhi: The crisis within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the single largest opposition party in Parliament, took a new turn when it accepted the resignation of Arun Jaitley as general secretary.
Though Jaitely had submitted his resignation on 6 June, three days after he was appointed leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, the fact was made public only on Tuesday by party president Rajnath Singh.
Under criticism: Arun Jaitley. Ramesh Pathania / Mint
Jaitley, chief election strategist and considered close to L.K. Advani, the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP in the 15th general election, was a target of severe criticism by several party leaders after he was appointed as the leader of the Opposition.
The BJP, which won 138 seats in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, has seen its numbers shrink to 116 in 2009 in the Lower House of Parliament.
“In his resignation letter, Jaitley said he was resigning from the post of general secretary under the one-man, one-post rule of the party after his appointment as leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha,” Singh said, adding that he has accepted it.
Meanwhile, news of the resignation drew differing responses from senior party leaders. While Sushma Swaraj, who described the situation as “volcanic”, sought to defuse the situation, Murli Manohar Joshi signalled his discomfort with the present leadership.
Swaraj told reporters in Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh, that “Jaitley has resigned because he cannot hold two posts at the same time as per the party rules”.
However, Advani had held two posts simultaneously as leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha when he was party chief after the 2004 polls.
In an interaction with reporters in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, Joshi said: “All of us are supposed to be tight-lipped and not to speak. During my tenure, no one quit.” The BJP leader said so in the context of Jaitley’s resignation and the gag order put in place by Singh on Saturday.
PTI contributed to this story.