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Modi gets reprieve; BJP rules out removal at this juncture

Sunday 20 June 2004

Embattled Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today earned a temporary reprieve with the BJP high command ruling out his removal "at this juncture" in an obvious effort to paper over the deep divisions in the party over the issue.


Party President M Venkaiah Naidu’s repeated assertions after a meeting of the Parliamentary Board this morning that Modi would not not be removed "at this juncture" still left open the possibilities that the party leadership may have arrived at an understanding to get rid of him after a gap when the controversy over former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee linking him and the Gujarat riots to the electoral debacle dies down.

It was not not clear whether the matter would come up at the National Executive in Mumbai from June 22 to 24. Naidu said the party would be organising a "chintan baithak (brain storming session)" during the July recess of the Budget Session of Parliament to analyse various shortcomings, come up with corrective measures to remove them and prepare a strategy to move forward.

After a three and half hour meeting of the BJP Parliamentary Board which included former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, leader of opposition L K Advani and Jaswant Singh, he said "we have learnt lessons from the past and we move forward leaving the past behind".

The meeting, also attended by senior leaders Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj, Pramod Mahajan, Arun Jaitley, Shivaraj Singh Chauhan and Sanjay Joshi, discussed all issues relating to present political situation and decided the agenda for the party national executive scheduled to be held in Mumbai next week.

"We analysed the reasons for the defeat of the party in the Lok Sabha polls and it was decided that at the national executive state wise reports on the poll outcome and the political situation would be discussed," Naidu said.

He said a small committee would be constituted to make "an indepth study" of the poll outcome based on feedbacks and reports from the states. Party sources said that the controversy over the continuance of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was discussed indepth at the meeting but none insisted on his removal "at this juncture".

The issue of change in leadership in Gujarat could be taken up at a later stage after the completion of the Assembly elections later this year, they said.

"There was no discussion as to what would be the approach of the party after the forthcoming Assembly elections in some of the States," they said.

After the three hour meeting of the Board the RSS joint general secretary Madan Das Devi, who had a meeting with Vajpayee yesterday, was called for the lunch at Naidu’s house, the venue of the Board meeting.

The party’s national executive would come out with a political resolution besides discussing the task ahead on how to take forward the party and strengthen it in the wake of the Lok Sabha debacle, sources said.

BJP’s Mumbai meeting would also discuss the strategy for the coming Assembly elections in Maharashtra, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh.

The party criticised the Congress for terming the killing of the LeT militants in Ahmedabad as a "drama" and said they have even gone to the extent of dubbing the terrorist attack on Akshardham temple as "stage managed".

"This is pseudo-secular competition among non-NDA parties for short term political gains and is not in the national interest," Naidu said.


in Outlook India, Monday, June 20, 2004.

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