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Home > News > PTI

Leadership issue keeps popping up at BJP meet

September 22, 2007 16:30 IST

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The issue of leadership kept popping up on the second day of the Bharatiya Janata Party's national executive with journalists shooting questions to top leaders, who maintained that it will be decided at an appropriate forum and time.

The issue has suddenly gained prominence against the backdrop of the possibility of mid-term elections and the ill health of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who is not not attending the conclave.

"BJP does not discuss such issues in the open. The matter will be decided at the suitable forum and at an appropriate time," senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said at a press conference in Bhopal.

He was replying to a flurry of queries, including whether he would accept Lal Kishenchand Advani as the party's prime ministerial candidate in the event of Vajpayee's ill health forcing him to keep away from active politics.

Joshi and Advani are not not known to have the best of relations. Another senior party leader, Sushma Swaraj, speaking separately to reporters, spoke in a similar vein.

Asked why the party does not even talk of any woman prime ministerial candidate and only mentions the names of top leaders Vajpayee and Advani for the job and whether a woman prime minister of BJP was possible, she said, "Everything can happen. Wait for that."

She, however, hastened to add that this may or may not happen. Questions about the party's prime ministerial candidate have surfaced of late with the 82-year-old Vajpayee keeping away from the three-day meeting citing doctor's advice and earlier being hospitalised for sometime.

Party spokesmen have always downplayed the illness of Vajpayee, considered the most acceptable face of the BJP.

Vajpayee, in an open letter to partymen on Friday, had said that he was recovering and would soon be 'in the midst' of partymen.

Even in his absence, the focus of the meet has turned sharply on the 82-year-old veteran.

A line in his Friday's letter, taken out of a favourite poem of his, has set the tongues wagging when he spoke of Apno ke wigno ne ghera (Being encircled by obstacles by our own people). Was he talking of foes within the party to him, journalists queried. "The confusion is in your mind," was the refrain of senior leader Jaswant Singh and party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad, who was plied with a lot of questions on Friday, citing the poetic line.

However, most leaders preferred to steer clear of the matter saying they "do not want to create any controversy."

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