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Is dissent growing against Advani?
K G Suresh in Mumbai | December 26, 2005 15:20 IST
With Bharatiya Janata Party president Lal Kishenchand Advani all set to relinquish the post, questions are already being raised among some party leaders about his continuation as leader of the opposition.
Advani is expected to step down as party president either during or at the end of the party's silver jubilee convention beginning in Mumbai on Wednesday.
His stand on the cash-for-queries scam -- he termed it as an act of stupidity -- and the party's decision to walk out of Lok Sabha when the motion for expulsion of the accused MPs was put to vote has 'severely dented the party's image', a very senior party leader told PTI.
"While we were all unhappy with the procedure adopted, nobody wanted the party to be seen as shielding the corrupt. But that is the public perception we ended up creating," the leader, who is also a parliamentarian but did not want to be named, said.
"If corruption is stupidity, then let us all be stupid," he said, adding the party's move also knocked the wind out of the sails of its campaign on the Volcker issue.
Some other leaders said they were 'baffled' by the party's U-turn on the Constitutional Amendment Bill providing reservation for SCs and STs in private, unaided educational institutions.
"Initially, we took an aggressive stand that we will oppose the bill if minority institutions were exempted from its purview, but then we ended up supporting it and made a fool of ourselves," another prominent leader said.
"If we had to finally support it, we should not have taken an aggressive stand. It enabled the Congress and the Left to project as if we were against the reservations itself," he said.
Some MPs attending the convention also recalled that the party boycotted almost an entire Parliament session on the issue of 'tainted' ministers till Advani realised that it was a mistake and public opinion was turning against the party.
A Rajya Sabha MP said the party also unnecessarily wasted precious parliamentary time on issues like attitude of the government towards the opposition and the prime minister's 'insulting behaviour'.
"We were seen more as sulking, hyper-sensitive and frustrated by the public at large. Such actions including marching to Rashtrapati Bhavan at the drop of a hat did us no good," he said.
While not demanding straightaway that Advani step down as leader of the opposition also, his critics felt that he should be 'more rational, balanced and aware of the public mood' by formulating the party's stand in Parliament.