Advani hints he may not be PM candidate in 2014


Nagpur: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani Wednesday indicated he may not be the party’s prime ministerial candidate in the next general elections.

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Already 83, he was speaking to reporters here after calling on Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat “to seek blessings” for his proposed nationwide rath yatra on “clean politics and good governance”.

He did not answer in a categorical “yes” or “no” when asked if he saw himself as a likely candidate. Instead, he said he had got more from the party than was possible from the post of prime minister.

“I became a swayamsevak of the Sangh, then a member of Jan Sangh and then BJP,” Advani said. “I feel what I have got from these organisations, from my colleagues, from the country, is much more than the post of prime minister.”

Advani said Bhagwat conveyed his full support to his road campaign, likely to start Oct 11. He said the RSS chief also informed him the organisation has told its cadres to work for the success of the yatra.

The BJP leader said he had also come to Nagpur to inquire after the health of party president Nitin Gadkari, who underwent weight reduction surgery earlier this month.

Advani said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had become “dysfunctional” due to various scams and, during the road show he would he talk about its failures and also the cash-for-votes scandal that rocked parliament in 2008.

Asked if the RSS was not in favour of his yatra, Advani quipped: “Reporters would know.”

Further, asked if the RSS wanted him to make it absolutely clear that he was not in the running for the post of PM, Advani said: “There are reports.”

Terming the 2008 cash-for-votes scam as the “dirtiest scandal in the history of India”, Advani said: “It has not only put a blot on the political system but on democracy.”

Advani also slammed the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) for the Commonwealth Games (CWG), 2G spectrum and Adarsh society scams.

He said action has been taken against some senior leaders, not on the initiative of the government, but due to the judiciary and the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

Asked about party MP Ram Jethmalani’s submissions in the court that the money in the cash-for-votes scam “must hve come” from the BJP, Advani said the senior advocate had named a Congress leader as the source of the money.

Asked if he had sought blessings of the RSS before his earlier yatras, Advani said informal consultations had always been held.

Advani’s visit came amid reports of RSS fears that his road shows were an attempt to project himself as a prime ministerial candidate.

Both Advani and RSS deny any differences.

He said he intended to visit the northeast during his campaign this time.

Advani said Gadkari would announce the schedule of his road show in Delhi but it would conclude before the winter session of parliament.

The yatra is likely to start Oct 11, birth anniversary of the late Jayaprakash Narayan, whose mobilisation of students in 1974 and call for ‘Total Revolution’ culminated in then prime minister Indira Gandhi imposing an unpopular Emergency in 1975.

Gandhi lost power in the elections held in 1977 after the emergency was lifted, but bounced back in the early-1980 Lok Sabha polls with thumping majority.

Advani said the jailing of two former party MPs in cash-for-votes scam was a trigger for his yatra which would emphasise “clean politics and good governance.”

The BJP leader said the two former MPs had acted as whistle-blowers and had done a big service to democracy.

Pointing out he was the Lok Sabha opposition leader during 2008 trust vote, Advani said he did not stop party MPs from displaying wads of currency notes in the house as “they were doing a big task”.

Doubting the “facts of the case”, Advani noted that 19 MPs had cross-voted. “Of them, many came back as MPs of the Congress,” he added.

He said the party’s campaign against the UPA would be strengthened by good performance of National Democratic Alliance-ruled states.