Advani to quit as Opposition leader sooner rather than later
NEW DELHI: No succession plan in the BJP has as yet been finalised in the party or by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. But, what appears certain is that L.K. Advani will step down as Leader of the Opposition “sooner rather than later” — as early as September or the latest by December — to make way for a change of leadership.
Party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar and RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said separately on Saturday that no names had as yet been finalised to succeed party president Rajnath Singh and Mr. Advani.
High profile meetings continued between RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and senior BJP leaders, taking forward the consultation process that had begun two days ago with Mr. Rajnath Singh calling on him at his Jhandewalan headquarters and four other leaders meeting him on Friday night.
Mr. Advani drove to Jhandewalan on Saturday afternoon and met Mr. Bhagwat for 90 minutes. It is understood that Mr. Advani may himself have indicated to Mr. Bhagwat when he would step down. It is said Mr. Advani may not want to vacate the position of Leader of the Opposition before December, when the current tenure of Mr. Singh comes to an end. Some of these issues were apparently discussed by Mr. Advani with some of his supporters in the party also.
There is a growing view in the BJP that after the attack on Mr. Advani by the expelled leader Jaswant Singh, and senior leader Arun Shourie, his continuation as parliamentary leader has become untenable. A number of party leaders expressed this view privately.
Significantly, earlier in the day, Mr. Bhagwat had lunch with another senior leader, Murli Manohar Joshi, at the latter’s residence on Raisina Road. Party insiders were quick to point out that Mr. Bhagwat chose to lunch with Dr. Joshi, who has been at loggerheads with Mr. Advani ever since he was denied a second term as party president in the 1990s. At that time Mr. Advani replaced him. Later at night, Dr. Joshi had a second meeting with the RSS leadership at Jhandewalan.