RSS persuades Advani to continue as Leader of Opposition (Second Lead)

May 18th, 2009 - 7:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, May 18 (IANS) BJP veteran L.K. Advani Monday gave in to the wishes of his party colleagues and agreed to continue as the Leader of Opposition in the new Lok Sabha after a meeting with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders.
Advani, 81, agreed to lead the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 15th Lok Sabha after the RSS suggested he should prevent politicking among party leaders for the post, BJP sources said.

Advani had Saturday offered to step down from his post after the poor show in the just-concluded general elections by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) that is led by the BJP.

The sources said Advani stopped pressing for the acceptance of his resignation only after a meeting with RSS leaders Madandas Devi and Suresh Soni.

The names of Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj and Jaswant Singh had already started doing the rounds for the Leader of Opposition post.

The BJP “suffered a setback in the Lok Sabha elections. It needs to rebuild itself to meet the challenges of the future. At this point Advani agreed not to persist with his suggestion (of stepping down),” party president Rajnath Singh told reporters after a meeting of the BJP’s parliamentary board here.

The meeting to brainstorm on the party’s defeat and take stock of the political situation was also attended by chief ministers of BJP-ruled states. Besides Advani and Rajnath Singh, all senior leaders of the party were in the meeting.

A proposed meeting of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners to examine the poll debacle was cancelled indefinitely amid speculations of internal fissures.

The NDA meeting was cancelled because leaders of its various constituents were discussing the poll results, alliance convener Sharad Yadav said.

“Today’s meeting has been postponed as leaders said they were busy discussing the NDA’S fall in the elections,” Yadav told reporters.

He rejected reports that the alliance was falling apart after the humiliating defeat in the elections, in which the BJP-led NDA came a distant second to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) which bagged 263 seats in the Lok Sabha elections. The NDA managed to win 159 seats.

Yadav, the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) chief, said: “In the last 15 years, many people have come and gone but the NDA has remained. The NDA is very much there and it will continue.”

Yadav Sunday said the efforts of a section of the BJP to project Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the future prime minister of the NDA when Advani was already the candidate for the top job contributed to the defeat of the alliance.

He also alleged that Varun Gandhi’s hate speeches also affected the NDA’s prospects.

Senior JD-U leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also confirmed Monday his party continued to be in the NDA. JD-U runs a coalition government with the BJP in the state.

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