L K Advani will play a role well beyond the specially-created position of chairman of BJP parliamentary party, according to the new party President Nitin Gadkari who made it clear that the 82-year-old veteran will be a 'permanent guide and philosopher' for the whole party.
"Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani are our role models and source of inspiration... Advaniji will be permanent guide and philosopher for the whole party," Gadkari told PTI in an interview.
Advani quit the post of Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha on December 18 in the face of attacks from within following the party's dismal performance in the general elections. He was made the chairman of Parliamentary Party, a move that gave an impression that his role would be confined to parliamentary affairs of the party.
Fifty two-year-old Gadkari, who is a new comer at the national scene, does not see it as a disadvantage but feels it is an "asset" as he would not be "biased".
Gadkari, whose appointment on December 18 came at a time when the party is going through a bad phase, said some corrective measures were needed and he would bring out a blueprint in this regard within three months.
Gadkari, a management graduate who has the challenging task of reviving the party that has been going through bad phase and has been afflicted by infighting, said his remedial mantra was that leaders should speak less to media.
He said most of the problems plaguing BJP were due to unnecessary talking by some leaders, both on-the-record and off-the-record and this needs to be stopped.
"Kam bolna, nahi bolna (speaking less, not speaking). This is the exact medicine my party needs. It will take care of 90 per cent of our problems," the new BJP chief said.
Gadkari said he would enforce discipline in the party along with mutual trust and would soon come out with detailed plans for the organisation and a political strategy to expand its base as also broaden the NDA.
Some senior leaders have been leaking details of internal confabulations as well as communications to press and taking pot-shots at their colleagues through the media.
Gadkari does not want to talk about events that happened in the party before he took over its reins. "Choro kal ki baatein, kal ki baat purani (let bygones by bygones)," he said, reciting the famous song of Hum Hindustani movie and added that he wanted to work for a bright future for the party.
The BJP chief said he would lay thrust on "performance audit" for the leaders who would be given responsibilities to revive the party and expand its base among various castes and communities and regions.
His aim is to increase the party's vote-share by 10 per cent and expand its reach to the south, West Bengal and Haryana. Gadkari, however, said there was no question of the party diluting its stand on Hindutva, contending that even the Supreme Court has held it as a "way of life". He insisted that Hindutva or BJP was not anti-minority.
Policies of the organisation do not change with the change of president, he underlined.
He said the BJP, through its political and organisational blueprint, would aim at winning over the minorities besides expanding base among the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Classes.
Asked how he plans to go about it, the new president said he would ask the party leaders and cadres to follow the policy of Antyodaya -- working for the last man in the queue.
Gadkari, whose being brought at the helm of affairs took many in the party by surprise, said his endeavour would be to win new friends to make the NDA strong.
He evaded questions on return of leaders like Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh, saying no such proposal had come from them till now.
Gadkari dismissed suggestions that he was an appointee of the RSS and maintained that senior leaders of the party, including Advani and Rajnath Singh zeroed-in on him for the task.
"I have a strong political will and commitment for the organisation and no biased approach and a transparent way of working," he said.