The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani one foot still in

Mumbai, Dec. 31: L.K. Advani today passed the BJP baton to Rajnath Singh but made it clear he had no intention of following in A.B. Vajpayee’s footsteps.

Announcing his resignation at the turn of the year, Advani said he would be continuing as leader of Opposition and kept open the option of being the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in 2009.

Advani made his stepdown look more like an interlude than the end of his political journey. There was no trace of any plan to quit electoral politics.

“My work in the party will continue. I continue to hold a very important office ' that of leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

“I had taken over the party president’s post because M. Venkaiah Naidu had domestic problems. I have always worked diligently for the party whether or not I hold any post,” he said.

Advani denied having ever said the BJP would have a new prime ministerial candidate in the next elections. Nor did he say for certain that he would refuse to be the chosen one.

“I never said that,” he told a scribe who raised the issue. “I don’t know who it will be. I will probably be too old. It can be anybody.”

He dismissed suggestions that he would not lead the party in 2009 as it now had a “new face”. “I thought the party attached a lot of importance to my face even when I was not president or LoP.”

He said the change in his post would not affect the regularity with which he attended party meetings. “I will do what the party tells me to do. If they want, I will be there.”

Through his relaxed demeanour and candid replies, Advani communicated his political innings was not over yet. From Jinnah to his remarks on the RSS-BJP relationship, he fielded questions with ease.

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