Extreme elements may have dented BJP’s image: Jaswant Singh

June 11th, 2009 - 11:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, June 11 (IANS) Calling for an “ideological distillation of thought” in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), senior party leader Jaswant Singh has said “extreme elements” associated with the party may have dented its image resulting in the poll debacle.
In an interview to NDTV news channel, he said: “There is a need for ideological distillation of thought. The BJP has to be a current party. It can’t be a party of yesterday. I think there’s lack of clarity on what Hindutva means.”

Asked if groups like Vishwa Hindu Parishad had not become a hindrance in making it a modern party, the former central minister said: “It is possible that extreme elements have dented this particular aspect. The BJP will have to address this aspect.”

To a question if the BJP was “living in yesterday”, Singh, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Darjeeling in West Bengal, admitted that the party had failed to convey its message to the masses.

“Perhaps people didn’t perceive it but we didn’t succeed effectively in conveying what we’re trying to do. The failure in conveying a message on what we stand for ended up with diminished electoral support.”

He added: “We had to reflect on what we are trying to address ourselves to. Come back to the issue that the party must be current, that it addresses today as well as tomorrow and doesn’t continue to be living in yesterday.”

Jaswant Singh, who was earlier leader of opposition in the upper house, conceded the election outcome this time was a “bigger shock” than the loss in 2004 “when everybody said we were winning”.

He said the party fared badly in some of the states where it expected to do better. The BJP won 116 seats, down from 138 in the previous elections.

Asked about rumours that the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani would step down and if the party needed an overhaul, he said: “Does the party need to look at itself? Yes! Does the party need to replace Advani? No!”

He continued: “The party must evolve into a succession, not arrive at succession because of an event. The event is a loss of an election…therefore you must change the leader? I don’t believe so!”

He did not see any merit in the argument of a section of the party leaders that throwing up Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s name as future prime minister when the elections were underway created confusion among the voters since the BJP had projected Advani for the post.

A day after he reportedly demanded at the party’s core group meeting that poll managers should be held accountable for the results, Jaswant Singh said: “When it comes to evolution of the BJP, factionalism has afflicted us.”

But added that there was no party not affected by it. He admitted he strongly voiced his opinion at the core group meeting, though they did not disclose the details.

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