The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday disassociated itself from the demand made by senior leader L.K. Advani in Nellore on Sunday that this government should quit and go in for fresh Lok Sabha polls.
Briefing reporters on Tuesday, party spokesman S.S. Ahluwalia hid behind the claim that the media had misquoted the senior BJP leader and prime ministerial aspirant. “Mr. Advani never demanded a fresh election. He was misreported [from Nellore on Sunday].”
However, the recording of Mr. Advani's Nellore speech — available on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LC0k7sZFaik — makes it clear there was no misreporting: “The time has come for this government to quit voluntarily and go to the people and seek their support and seek a fresh mandate. Really speaking, their mandate of 2009 has been exhausted …”, he said.
The Hindu had also reported Mr. Advani from Nellore (edition dated August 22, 2011) asking the Prime Minister to step down and seek a fresh mandate.
Apparently, BJP leaders were annoyed that without any discussion at any party forum Mr. Advani had demanded a mid-term poll for which the party was not prepared at the moment.
The BJP has not yet gained ground in Uttar Pradesh, although with the heat on the government at the Centre it is hoping some movement of support to it at least from the upper castes. It has not found any new alliance partners to widen its catchment area for votes in a general election. And it has not yet internally resolved the leadership issue, a party leader said. “Moreover, a demand for fresh polls will not go down well with our own MPs and will certainly not win us new allies,” one MP conceded.
Another privately conceded that Mr. Advani had indeed demanded a mid-term poll as this “suited him” and “no one should forget that in these days of electronic media dominance everything anyone says gets recorded. It is no longer possible to get away by blaming the media for misreporting.”
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi was quick to comment on the rival party's discomfiture. “He [Advani] wants to bring about a change in his own status as a permanent PM-in-waiting, but his dream will not be fulfilled.”
Mr. Singhvi also interpreted Mr. Advani's remark demanding an early election as a way out for the BJP, which he said, “was not interested in a strong anti-corruption law through the establishment of a Lokpal. The BJP did not want multi-structured laws to fight corruption that the Congress government is working on; it wants the Lok Sabha dissolved and fresh elections to scuttle the anti-corruption moves and grab power.”