L.K. Advani on Friday became chairman of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s parliamentary wing leading to his simultaneous exit as Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, a position now taken by Sushma Swaraj.
The post was especially created for Mr. Advani when party president Rajnath Singh moved an amendment to the party’s parliamentary constitution. It was adopted unanimously by 112 party members of both Houses of Parliament present at the Parliament Annexe where a special meeting of the parliamentary party was called. It was then proposed that Mr. Advani be made chairman and the proposal was approved with thumping of desks and clapping.
With this, his position as Leader of the Opposition stood vacated. And Mr. Advani, as chairman, nominated Sushma Swaraj as Leader of the Opposition. He also re-nominated Arun Jaitley as Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. Mr. Rajnath Singh offered “laddus” to the two and others presented them with garlands and bouquets.
With Mr. Advani’s exit as Leader of the Opposition, the entire parliamentary team of office-bearers stood disbanded. This necessitated the re-nomination of Mr. Jaitley.
The positions of deputy leaders of the party in the two Houses – till Friday held by Ms. Swaraj and S.S. Ahluwalia – and other positions will be filled in a few days.
Mr. Advani said he was not about to retire and would continue to be a political “rath-yatri” till the end of his life, and Friday marked “a new beginning” in his political life. He felt a “relief” that he was no longer “responsible” as the “de facto and de jure” Leaders of the Opposition were now Ms. Swaraj and Mr. Jaitley, and the “satisfaction” that he could contribute to the political life of the country for almost 70 years, ever since he became a `swayamsevak’ at the age of 14.
He mentioned the high mark in his political career – the “rath-yatra” from Somnath to Ayodhya that was stopped mid-way with his arrest as Samastipur and his second “Swaran Jayanti yatra” and many others.
Later, when the floor was given to Mr. Jaitley and Ms. Swaraj, they thanked Mr. Advani, Mr. Rajnath Singh and the party. Ms. Swaraj referred to herself and him as “behen-bhai ki jodi” – the sister-brother duo. Mr. Jaitley said that six months after the UPA government of 2009, the Opposition was in a position to put the government in the dock over indecisiveness, corruption, economic situation, internal security and a host of other issues.