Advani can’t be held responsible for BJP’s defeat: Naidu

May 31st, 2009 - 6:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader M. Venkaiah Naidu has strongly defended L.K. Advani, who was the prime ministerial candidate for the Lok Sabha polls, saying Advani can’t be held responsible for the party’s defeat in the elections.
Naidu, however, admitted that the negative campaign against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may have played a role in the party’s electoral setback.

“You lose one election. It does not mean you discard the leader,” Naidu told Karan Thapar in an interview broadcast on CNN-IBN news channel. He was asked if the BJP would pick a new leader to replace Advani following its poor poll showing.

“The Congress lost in 1999, but the party didn’t reject the leader,” he said in “The Devil’s Advocate” programme.

“It’s not a Twenty20 match. It’s a lifetime mission,” Naidu said, while rejecting critics who have blamed Advani for the BJP’s dismal performance.

“No individual is responsible,” Naidu replied to a pointed question on whether no responsibility applied to Advani for the party’s debacle.

The BJP won 116 seats in the Lok Sabha polls this time - down from the 138 in 2004.

Despite widespread perception that propping up Advani for the top post had marred the party’s prospects, the BJP brass has decided to continue with him as Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

Naidu also repudiated critics who cited Advani’s age as a factor that influenced voters against the party.

“Age was not a factor. Character, calibre, capacity, conduct, energy and also enthusiasm of Advani; there is no comparison to anybody in this country,” Naidu said. Advani is 81.

“There are local factors - if Advaniji is rejected or if Manmohan Singh is accepted there has to be uniform trend across the country. With small minor exceptions, that is not the case - you have seen good results in a number of states.

“You may say it didn’t excite anyone, but there are thousands who are very sad that he could not become the PM after so much contribution to public life and to the political system of the country,” Naidu said.

Introspecting on the reasons for the BJP’s reverses, Naidu admitted that the attacks on Manmohan Singh as a weak prime minister may have created a negative impression in the minds of voters.

“In India people always like moderation, and we have been trying to put that in the best possible manner, for the people,” he said.

“But unfortunately on certain issues a negative impact has been created in the mind of the people - a negative perception has been created.

“That was one of the reasons for the minorities going away totally to the other side,” he admitted.

The BJP leader, however, said there was nothing personal in the party’s attack on the prime minister.

“Did Advani or any party man of the BJP criticise Manmohan Singh personally? Nobody talked about his height or weight, people talked about the performance, you know the performance,” Naidu said.

“We will do an in-depth analysis, state-wise and region-wise. We will identify the reasons for setbacks and the move forward,” he said.

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