On the day that the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) released its manifesto “sankalp patra” for the upcoming polls to elect the 17th Lok Sabha, party president Amit Shah meet veteran leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi in Delhi. It was not known what transpired in the meeting but it has come after the veterans appeared to be upset over being sidelined in the party.
In the run-up to the elections, while Advani wrote a blog going against the PM Modi’s election pitch of branding the Opposition similar to anti-nationals, Murli Manohar Joshi had shot an open letter informing the public that he has been asked by the party leadership to not contest the upcoming elections from Kanpur and elsewhere.
Interestingly in 2014, Joshi had vacated the Varanasi parliamentary constituency for PM Modi and this time LK Advani’s traditional seat of Gandhinagar has been given to BJP president Amit Shah.
The opposition has also tried to corner the BJP over the issue, with Congress president Rahul Gandhi accusing the Modi-Shah duo of “kicking out” their gurus/teachers from the party. After Advani’s blog, the Gandhi family scion had targeted PM Modi of going against the Hindu traditions of respecting its elders.
Reports suggest that Amit Shah met the veterans to share the highlights of the manifesto personally to them and take their inputs. However, the move can be seen as an attempt by the party at damage control.
The veterans were reportedly upset over the fact that they were apprised of the decision of denying them a ticket by the general secretaries and not directly by the top leadership. Let alone the fact that it was not discussed with them.
In his blog post, Advani apparently took a veiled dig at PM Modi saying that the party never viewed its political foes as “anti-national”.
“The essence of Indian democracy is respect for diversity and freedom of expression. Right from its inception, the BJP has never regarded those who disagree with us politically as our ‘enemies’, but only as our adversaries. Similarly, in our conception of Indian nationalism, we have never regarded those who disagree with us politically as ‘anti-national’,” Advani said.
Earlier on the question of why they were denied tickets, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said that it was his idea from his party president days that leaders above the 75 years of age will not be given tickets. Singh said that party had accepted the idea.
However, in the last election, LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi both had dodged the 75-plus age ban on candidates. LK Advani and MM Joshi are not the only 75 plus leaders that have been quietly put out to pasture, several leaders from across the nation have been replaced with younger candidates.
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