Yashwant Sinha quits party posts, BJP in turmoil after poll debacle (Roundup)

June 13th, 2009 - 10:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, June 13 (IANS) The turmoil in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after its poll debacle deepened Saturday with the resignation from all party posts of former central minister Yashwant Sinha, who joined a swelling number of senior leaders criticising the manner in which the party was functioning.
Sinha faxed his resignation as party vice president to BJP president Rajnath Singh from Hazaribagh, the constituency in Jharkhand from where he won the Lok Sabha elections this time.

Party spokesperson Shrikant Sharma confirmed that Sinha’s resignation had been accepted.

The veteran leaders has resigned from all positions in the party, including as member of the national executive and the party observer for Karnataka, the only south Indian state where the party is in power.

According to party sources, Sinha in his five-page resignation letter has said L.K. Advani, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in the April-May elections, should not have agreed to be the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha again and that someone must take responsibility for the party’s defeat.

The resignation letter arrived just about the time Rajnath Singh asked leaders to “refrain” from voicing criticism of one another in the public domain and said those breaching the directive would invite “disciplinary action”.

He was addressing the media here after senior leaders Jaswant Singh, poll strategists Sudheendra Kulkarni, Arun Jaitley and now Sinha, in thinly veiled references, blamed the top leadership for the poor showing in the Lok Sabha polls.

The BJP won just 116 seats this time, down from 138 in 2004, while its leaders have said publicly that they had expected to get 160.

Rajnath Singh said: “Statements by different leaders in the media have created an impression that the party leadership is in disarray and is not analysing the reasons for defeat. This is far from truth. The BJP leadership stands united…”

The BJP chief said “the party leadership should refrain from sharing any view outside the party forum such as media or share any information that might create a negative image of the party.”

Failing to adhere to the directive would invite “disciplinary action”, he said.

Sinha, who had held finance and external affairs portfolios in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government, refused to speak to mediapersons in Jharkhand on his resignation.

“I do not want to talk about it,” he said.

In the past Sinha had attacked Advani over the veteran leader’s comments on Pakistan’s founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

Rajnath Singh’s directive to party leaders came a day after the BJP ruled out any action against veteran leader Jaswant Singh for his criticism of the party in the media.

On Wednesday, Jaswant Singh, who too had held important portfolios including finance, defence and external affairs in the NDA government, had angrily stated at the party’s core group meeting here that there should be a connect between “parinaam aur puraskar (results and rewards)”.

His reference was to Jaitley who was the BJP’s chief poll manager and has been made leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha - a post which Jaswant Singh held before being elected to the Lok Sabha to the Lok Sabha from Darjeeling in West Bengal.

According to the sources, Jaswant Singh said at the core group meeting that those who were in charge of the elections were now finding faults with the campaign by writing in the media.

His reference was again to Jaitley, who wrote in the Indian Express May 27, criticising aspects of the party’s poll campaign, especially the attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

He wrote: “The prime minister’s own image created a sense of sympathy that a man who wanted to deliver was being obstructed from proceeding further.”

Key Advani aide and poll strategist Kulkarni, in his analysis of the poll results in the Tehelka newsmagazine, also made comments critical of the party.

He said the party needs to introspect on reasons for the defeat. “The RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) needs it no less. The leaders must ask themselves, and answer the question honestly and earnestly - why is the acceptability of the RSS and VHP limited to Hindu society itself?”

He also said the party “did nothing” while its allies started moving away in the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat sectarian violence.

Jaswant Singh in an interview to the NDTV television channel said the BJP needed to be a “current party” and should reinvent itself.

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