Advani era over, hands reins to Sushma Swaraj (Second Lead)

December 18th, 2009 - 9:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, Dec 18 (IANS) An era came to an end in Indian politics when veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani Friday paved way for the elevation of Sushma Swaraj as the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and assumed charge as the first chairman of the BJP Parliamentary Party.
Nitin Gadkari was widely expected to be the next president of the party replacing Rajnath Singh who will step down Saturday. With this the BJP has opted for a generational change in its leadership to meet future political challenges.

The parliamentary party earlier unanimously amended its constitution to create the new post of its chairman to enable the transition.

While relinquishing his post, Advani asserted that he felt a sense of “relief” and “satisfaction”, but said it was not the end of his active political career.

“If they think that I will quit activeness and politics then it is all wrong. I became a rath yatri at 14 when I was just out of high school, and became a swayam sewak… this rath yatra would go on for life,” Advani, 82, said while addressing the parliamentary party meeting here.

Dressed in a black bandgala suit, Advani said: “I am grateful for your (party members) affection and cooperation. In one of the newspapers today (Friday) the headline was ‘Rathyatri to get down today’. They had further written that it would mark the end of an era in Indian politics. It is a big statement. But I think in my life and political career, it is a new chapter.”

BJP president Rajnath Singh said: “From Jana Sangh to Bharatiya Janata Party your (Advani’s) contribution has been unparalleled. It is a setback for the party. The party needs the leadership of Advaniji.”

Singh had proposed the creation of the new post and it was seconded by Venkaiah Naidu and Gopinath Munde. Senior leader Yashwant Sinha had proposed Advani’s name for the post. Advani was elected the chairman of the Parliamentary Party unanimously.

“No political party is there which earned so much popularity in such short time. In the last few days there might have been some decline in the popularity due to our shortcomings and it should be deliberated upon,” Advani said after assuming the charge.

The elevation of Sushma Swaraj, 57, is symbolic for the BJP as she will be the first woman leader of opposition from the party. An impressive orator, Sushma has been a top campaigner of the party and held positions as a minister in Haryana and chief minister of Delhi.

Widely respected in the party, Sushma, shares good rapport with leaders across the political spectrum.

Arun Jaitley is the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

Later Singh addressed a press conference at the party office flocked by other senior BJP leaders as drummers went full flow and party members danced to their beats outside.

Singh will step down as the party president Saturday and will hand over the charge to Nitin Gadkari, the party’s Mahrashtra unit chief.

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