Debating India


Advani quits as BJP chief, sticks to his guns

Tuesday 7 June 2005

NEW DELHI: Just two days after his controversial remarks on Mohammed Ali Jinnah, L K Advani on Tuesday resigned as the president of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Advani called Sanjay Joshi, RSS pointsman in BJP, to his residence on Tuesday morning and handed over to him a letter announcing his resignation as party President.

His resignation came a day after the top RSS brass demanded that Advani withdraw his utterances.

Significantly, Advani wrote the letter just before leaving Karachi on Monday.

"I have decided to request the party to relieve me of Presidentship," the letter said. "I am sure acceding to my request would be in the best interest of the great cause I have served all my life as also of the party which has given me so much," it said.

In the letter, Advani maintained that he had not said or done anything in Pakistan which he needed to retract or review.

"I have taken this decision after pondering the matter very carefully. And I believe that my visit to Pakistan last week has immensely reinforced the initiatives taken by the NDA Government to bring about peace and normalcy with Pakistan. I have not said or done anything in Pakistan which I need to retract or review," the letter said.

Interestingly, few hours before Advani put in his papers; former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee stood by him and said that Pakistan’s founder leader had played an important role in the freedom struggle. Senior Congress leaders like Sarojini Naidu had also made similar remarks about Jinnah, who had played an important role in the freedom struggle, Vajpayee told reporters at the Bhuntar Airport near Kullu shortly before his departure for Delhi.

Meanwhile, firebrand VHP leader Pravin Togadia, who had described Advani as a "traitor" for his statements in Pakistan, welcomed his resignation.

Everyone had a right to freedom of expression and he did not mind it, the former Prime Minister said. Describing Jinnah as the "Janak (Father)" of Pakistan Vajpayee said the Qaid-e-Azam had wanted the people of India and Pakistan to live in harmony, but his intentions were not supported by other Pakistani leaders.

Meanwhile, senior BJP leaders have rushed to Advani’s residence to persuade him to withdraw his resignation. Pramod Mahajan, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Ananth Kumar and Bal Apte, who were among the first to arrive.

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