Was there a Bharatiya Janata Party report on the Lok Sabha election debacle by a three-man committee chaired by vice-president Bal Apte?

If there was no report at all, as leaders including BJP president Rajnath Singh have publicly maintained, then what was the eight or nine-page document — titled ‘Analysis of Election Results’ and circulated to the delegates to the Shimla chintan baithak and leaked to the media — about? Who was its author?

It seems there are two documents and hence the confusion. The Bal Apte Committee — its other two members were Murlidhar Rao and Chandan Mitra — did prepare a document that was a kind of discussion paper based on “feedback” from the State party units. This was neither circulated to the chintan baithak delegates, nor was it leaked, party sources indicated.

But what was circulated to the delegates in sealed packets along with other material before the start of the three-day conclave last week was the “leaked report” that alleged hijacking of the party’s common man agenda by the mazboot neta (strong leader) campaign highlighted by the BJP to project L.K. Advani as the right choice for Prime Minister and pit him against the “weak Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.”

Several delegates said separately that when Mr. Apte was asked whether those papers were part of his report, he denied and said he had not read or seen them before. Mr. Rajnath Singh and general secretary (organisation) Ramlal said the same thing. Then questions were asked if neither Mr. Apte, nor the party president nor the general secretary (organisation), has seen those papers before, what were the papers given to the delegates in sealed covers? Senior party leaders told The Hindu on Tuesday no one had any answer.

Mr. Mitra said: “The five to eight pages of the so-called Bal Apte Committee report leaked to the media was not at all a part of the paper prepared by the three-man committee, of which I was a member. Our committee did not prepare a report at all. What we did was we flagged a number of issues based on our feedback from party State units to help lay the road ahead.”

Some leaders who attended the chintan baithak said many issues were discussed that were earlier “noted” in a diary by Mr. Ramlal, but the document prepared by the Apte Committee was not circulated and they did not know where the document that was circulated came from. They suspect that this episode was part of the “cloak and dagger factional politics” that has lately taken hold of the party.

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