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BJP will discuss Modi's removal at Mumbai meet: Vajpayee
June 13, 2004 17:11 IST
Last Updated: June 13, 2004 18:47 IST
Creating a flutter in the Sangh Parivar, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Sunday said Narendra Modi's removal as Gujarat chief minister would be discussed at the forthcoming Bharatiya Janata Party national executive meeting in Mumbai.
The meet to be held on June 23-24 will take stock of the reasons for party's electoral defeat.
Following up on his Saturday's statement that the Gujarat riots could be one of the reasons for BJP's defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, he also confirmed what had been widely speculated earlier that he personally favoured Modi's removal but was prevailed upon by hawks in the Parivar.
"We have to see what will be the losses and gains in that (Modi's removal). We will have to have new policies."
"There were two opinions (in the party) on the question of Modi's removal after the riots. Some people wanted his removal, which was also what I had in mind.
"But the entire responsibility was put on me and I had to take a decision keeping in mind all shades of opinion. I felt that holding elections would be more beneficial."
Asked whether the party had suffered by its refusal to sack Modi, Vajpayee said, "There were different opinions. But we did not realise that this strategy would be exploited so much outside Gujarat. The kind of films that were distributed… the whole thing was run like a campaign,"
Vajpayee agreed it would have been better if Modi had been removed.
"But after the event, such debates are academic in nature and it does not change the situation. Whatever damage could have happened has happened. Now, we have to think of a new beginning," he said adding, "Leadership change is also an issue."
"Elections were fought under my leadership and we lost. So has my leadership not failed? If it failed, then I should resign. But these are collective decisions," he said.
He made it clear he was not retiring and would continue to work for the party. On Advani's taking over as Leader of the Opposition, he said, "I was leader of the opposition for many years and I got full support from everyone. Now I will give full support."
Vajpayee said the bitter criticism of Congress president Sonia Gandhi did not benefit the BJP in the elections.
"The Indian voter does not like mud-slinging. For sometime, he enjoys but at the end of the day mud-slinging has no place in politics," he said.
The former prime minister felt the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) would not complete its full term. "The coalition is full of differences."
Vajpayee termed the electoral results as totally unprecedented. "It looks as if the voters voted differently in each state. Regional issues were on the forefront. It is a fractured mandate. What happened in Punjab was not repeated in neighbouring Haryana. What are the reasons (behind this) we will have to think over it," he said.
Vajpayee did not agree with the suggestion that BJP lost the Lok Sabha elections because it had abandoned hardcore Hindutva issues.
"This is not correct. People knew we have not dumped the Ram Janambhoomi issue. They knew we were fighting elections on other issues," he said.
On alliance with Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party, Vajpayee said, "I did not (ever) say that we (the BJP) and SP would work together or form an alliance. I only said that we agree on certain things and we can work together on some issues. The way this statement was projected, it did a lot of damage to the SP."
The BJP and SP have fundamental differences on many issues, including Ram Janambhoomi and Kashmir.
"I see no alliance with the SP," Vajpayee said when asked if BJP would tie up with Mulayam Singh Yadav in the next elections.
The Gujarat Riots: The Complete Coverage