Jaitley quits BJP post ahead of crucial party meet (Second Lead)

June 16th, 2009 - 9:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Amid turmoil in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over its poll debacle, Arun Jaitley has resigned as its general secretary, though the party maintained Tuesday he was only following the one-man-one-post tradition.
But speculation was rife that the party had made his resignation public now in a bid to pre-empt trouble at the meeting of the national executive, slated for June 20-21, with several party seniors insisting that responsibility be fixed for the poll defeat.

Jaitley was the BJP’s chief campaign manager for the April-May elections and a section of party leaders are angry that he was June 3 rewarded with the post of leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

They also allege that the party leadership was avoiding a discussion on the poor results. The party’s tally came down to 116 seats in the Lok Sabha from 138 in 2004 though it was expecting to touch 160.

BJP media cell convenor Nalin Kohli told reporters that Jaitley had stepped down in keeping with the party’s one-man-one-post tradition and that he had quit June 3 itself when he was made leader of opposition in the upper house - a position vacated by Jaswant Singh after his election to the Lok Sabha.

Asked why the party made his resignation public now, Kohli told a television channel: “Not much should be read into the timing of his resignation.”

The resignation has come when Jaitley himself is vacationing out of the country and is not expected to attend the national executive meet.

When reminded that L.K. Advani had remained the leader of opposition in the lower house for some time while he was still the party president, Kohli said one-man one-post was a “general principle that is followed” but not enforced.

Kohli denied that Jaitley’s resignation had anything to do with the national executive meeting, amid speculation that the conference might be put off in view of the unrest within the party.

“The national executive meeting will be held as scheduled and since it is being held in the aftermath of the elections, the outcome will be analysed. But a detailed analysis would take place at the chintan baithak (brainstorming session) in August,” Kohli said.

Jaitley has been the target of several senior leaders ever since the party’s prime ministerial candidate Advani picked him as leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

A senior leader, not wishing to be identified, disclosed that “the party expects a lot of fireworks at the national executive and his (Jaitley’s) resignation might be to pre-empt this”, given that there was a clamour for Jaitley’s head especially after he was made the leader of opposition in the upper house.

The announcement of Jaitley’s resignation has come when the party is facing a “volcanic situation” as described by another leader Sushma Swaraj while speaking to a section of the media in Bhopal Monday.

Three days ago, senior leader and former central minister Yashwant Sinha resigned from all party posts demanding that the BJP should fix responsibility for the debacle and reconstitute the party. Sinha resigned as party vice-president, national executive member and in-charge of party affairs in Karnataka.

Earlier last week, former external affairs minister Jaswant Singh spoke of a disconnect between “parinaam and puraskar (results and rewards)” at a meeting of the party’s core group.

According to party insiders, he wondered at the meeting that Jaitley, who was in charge of the elections, had been rewarded despite the party’s poor show in elections.

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