Advani won’t contest next LS polls: Naidu

Advani won’t contest next LS polls: Naidu

New Delhi: Ending six months of speculation about whether Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani will continue in active politics, the main opposition party’s senior leader and former president, Venkaiah Naidu, told a television channel that the 82-year-old Advani would not contest or lead the party in the next Lok Sabha elections.

Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee were instrumental in propelling the party from the fringes after the 1984 election to power in 1998. But Advani has now led the Hindu nationalist party to two successive poll defeats and has battled internal rebellion in a party that once took pride in its discipline. Analysts say the decision will give a chance for the BJP to realistically prepare for the next elections due not later than 2014.

In an interview with CNN-IBN, Naidu, an Advani confidant, said: “Advani is not going to contest the next elections. We are not going to fight the next elections under his leadership. Next general elections are going to happen when... you know (2014)."

Advani, who offered to resign as leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha after the election defeat in May, was in the news recently after his spiritual mentor Swami Vishwesh Teerth said Advani had expressed desire to quit politics while visiting him.

Naidu added that it was logical for the party to get a new leadership before the next Lok Sabha polls.

Political parties discuss issues and then come to conclusions according to the need of the hour and by consensus, Naidu, a member of the Rajya Sabha, said when asked who would be the next BJP leader. However, he added that it was for Advani to make way for others. “It is his choice. Nobody has given him any deadline...," Naidu said.

“It is a good development for the party. It would give more time and reasons for the opposition to groom quality leaders to fight against the Congress which is surging ahead with more youthful faces and ideas," said Vivek Kumar, associate professor with the Centre for Social Inclusion at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Party spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said, “it is a natural answer (by Naidu), and everyone in the party knows that change is bound to happen."

PTI contributed to this story.