New Delhi, July 16: The leadership question in the BJP was again thrown wide open tonight after an orchestrated clamour for Lal Krishna Advani’s scalp by a group of disgruntled party veterans.
As the BJP president rushed to Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s house, rumours swirled that he might step down even before the national executive in Chennai next week. Jaswant Singh and M. Venkaiah Naidu joined the duo later.
Officially, the BJP dismissed reports of a crisis as “baseless speculation”. Sources said Advani would make up his mind once he gauges the response of Vajpayee.
The ball was set rolling with Madan Lal Khurana, a former Delhi chief minister who quit after the hawala case, writing a strong letter to Advani demanding his resignation.
“It is public knowledge that the Sangh leadership has lost confidence in you and had expected that you, as a disciplined swayamsevak, should resign from the presidentship of the party.
“I do not know whether you respect the sentiments of the Sangh leadership or whether you prefer to go by the advice of people like Sudheendra Kulkarni. But under the present circumstances, I find it impossible to continue under your leadership,” it said.
Khurana sent a copy to RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan, who had put off his US visit scheduled for July 18 after the BJP chief this week defied Sangh pressure to step down.
General secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Pyarelal Khandelwal and former BJP chief Jana Krishnamurthy wrote to Advani separately, demanding a discussion on his Pakistan visit and the one-man one-post norm ' a euphemism for asking him to give up one ' at the Chennai national executive. Advani is the leader of Opposition.
Both are close to the Sangh and Krishnamurthy has been sore after he was ousted as BJP chief and Union minister. Khandelwal sent a copy of his letter to Vajpayee.
Bangaru Laxman, who quit as BJP chief after the Tehelka expos', joined the chorus and asked for a discussion on the confusion created by Advani’s statements in Pakistan.
As Advani came under attack from one colleague after another, not one second-rung leader rose in his defence.
For the past three days, the RSS has been consulting all those who matter in the party on how to secure the BJP chief’s resignation.
A meeting of general secretaries is planned tomorrow to finalise the draft resolution for the national executive. The meeting would be held “as per schedule” at Advani’s house, the BJP said.