‘Nobody in the BJP attacked Manmohan personally’

‘Minorities had moved towards the Congress’

New Delhi: Strongly defending L.K. Advani after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, the former party vice-president, Venkaiah Naidu, said different States behaved separately and the leader “alone” could not be blamed for the party’s performance.

“There are various reasons ... different States behaved in different manner. It is not about leaders alone,” Mr. Naidu said.

He was responding to a question by Karan Thapar in the ‘Devil’s Advocate’ programme on CNN-IBN whether Mr. Advani’s age and his hardliner image was the reason behind the BJP’s defeat.

Mr. Naidu said no individual was responsible for the party’s performance and, therefore, Mr. Advani could not be held solely responsible.

“Of Advaniji there is no comparison in this country.

There were local factors. If Mr. Advani is rejected or Manmohan Singh is accepted, there has to be a uniform trend across the country, small, minor exceptions. That is not the case. You have seen good results in a number of States,” he added.

He said Mr. Advani’s image was of a decisive leader. He termed “propaganda by some of our opponents” the suggestions that Mr. Advani’s image as a hardliner worked against the party. “Whoever knows Mr. Advani, they all know that he is a nationalist to the core. He thinks of the entire nation, not about any section,” he added.

Mr. Naidu said “politics was not a T-20 cricket match, it is a life-long mission ...you lose one election then you discard the leader. Congress lost in 1999, so they discarded the leader,” he quipped.

He said nobody in the BJP attacked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh personally. “Nobody talked about his height, nobody talked about his weight. People talked about his performance ...you know the performance.”

To a question whether attacks on the Prime Minister worked against the BJP, Mr. Naidu said that as far as the “public is concerned, I don’t think there is an issue on which people have not voted for us.” He said some Congressmen could have projected the BJP’s stand on the Prime Minister’s performance as a personal attack before the people.

On Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi failing as the ‘star campaigner’ of the party, Mr. Naidu said: “He was one of the main campaigners, no doubt ...Narendra Modi is an effective campaigner, he was the campaigner, he will be the campaigner.” He said “a good number of seats were won” where Mr. Modi campaigned ...you cannot win or lose elections by one campaign or one meeting. It is a collective effort by the entire party.” — PTI