Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani on Friday expressed his wish for ‘chutti’ (freedom) from the rough and tumble of politics, as he recalled his 67-year-long political journey, from Indore to Indore.
He was giving a valedictory address to the party’s National Council.
Proclaiming his journey to be one of ‘deshbhakti’ (patriotism) and ‘rashtraseva’ (service to the country), Mr. Advani said he felt that he, too, was entitled to a holiday, freedom from the daily grind. Mujhe bhi chutti milni chahiye, he said, noting that he had been repeatedly told by colleagues that he must stay on as “you have the experience.”
He was the oldest member of the party, he said, adding a “generational change” was natural, but the BJP had set an example for all other parties by the “smooth” manner in which it was done. He had the responsibility to ensure “depth” in leadership, and that he had done.
In the parliamentary party, this was done by December 2009, when his younger colleague Sushma Swaraj became the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and another colleague, Arun Jaitley, had earlier been appointed the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. The change in the organisation leadership was effected here in Indore, where Nitin Gadkari’s election as party president was ratified.
He talked about the possibility of the BJP forming a government at the Centre in 2014. “If we get a chance at the Centre, I would like to implement the ‘ladli’ scheme [implemented successfully for girl children in Madhya Pradesh] throughout the country,” he said.
He questioned the 2009 Lok Sabha poll verdict. “Did the Congress deserve the 2009 ‘janadesh’? The answer lies in the current situation in the country. If there is an election today, price rise alone will ensure its defeat,” he said.
He said nothing hurt the party more than the picture of a divided house. Mr. Gadkari was absolutely right in saying that individual ambitions must always be subservient to the party’s best interest, Mr. Advani said, though some delegates had indicated that those remarks were aimed at some senior leaders, including Mr. Advani.
Some media reports had signalled the end of his ‘yatra’ when he quit his position as the Leader of the Opposition, making way for Ms. Swaraj, Mr. Advani said. But, besides the Somnath-Ayodhya ‘yatra,’ which in fact ended in Samastipur where he was arrested, he had embarked upon many ‘yatras.’ However, his ‘yatra’ of ‘deshbhakti’ and ‘rashtraseva’ started in 1943 in Indore, the city he visited first after his stay in Sind (in Pakistan) where he was born. In 1943, he took part in a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh training course, and now he was again in Indore, making him recall his long political journey.