Refusing to comply, LK Advani points that some senior BJP leader should have contacted them
BJP veteran LK Advani, who was dropped from the BJP list of candidates for the Lok Sabha elections, is extremely upset about the way the exercise was conducted, sources said. “Not getting to be in Lok Sabha is not the issue, but the manner in which the denial was done was disrespectful… No big leader contacted him,” said a source close to the BJP veteran, who had been representing Gandhinagar for six consecutive terms.
Gandhinagar has been allotted to party chief Amit Shah, who will make his debut into Lok Sabha elections this time.
The BJP has a strict retirement age policy about its aging leaders – a matte that has drawn much ridicule from the Congress.
Mr Advani, who was the Deputy Prime Minister in the government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was among the 10-odd leaders above the age of 75, whom the party dropped this time.
Days before the announcement of list, the BJP national general secretary Ram Lal had contacted the leaders and asked them to announce their retirement from electoral politics. Mr Advani, 91, however, refused to comply, pointing out that some senior leader of the BJP should have had the courtesy to contact them.
The other leaders who have been asked to voluntarily retire from electoral politics include Shanta Kumar, Hukumdeo Yadav, Kalraj Mishra, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, BC Khanduri and Karia Munda
Only Shanta Kumar, a lawmaker from Himachal Pradesh and Kalraj Mishra, lawmaker from Deoria, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana BJP in-charge, have agreed to publicly declare they would voluntarily withdraw.
The rest have been dropped from the list.
It is not yet clear whether Sumitra Mahajan, the 75-year-old Lok Sabha Speaker, would be allotted a seat. Her name was not included in the list for her home state, Madhya Pradesh.
It is also unclear whether Murli Manohar Joshi would be fielded from Kanpur. While Ram Lal had met Mr Joshi, no candidate has been announced for the seat yet.
Soon after the BJP came to power in 2014, Mr Advani was shifted to what the party called its “margdarshak mandal (guiding lights)” – an advisory panel – along with party veterans Arun Shourie, Yashwant Sinha and Murli Manohar Joshi. The panel, however, was never asked for its inputs even for key decisions.
The next year, Mr Advani was not seen as the party’s foundation day celebrations – an event he had attended for decades. He had also slowly dropped out of other functions.
Ahead of the 2014 national elections, Mr Advani had unsuccessfully tried to persuade the BJP against picking Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate. Barely two months after the election, he was removed, along with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Murli Manohar Joshi, from the BJP’s top decision-making group, its parliamentary board.
Over the years, Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha – both ministers in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government – emerged as vocal critics of the BJP and its leadership. In 2015, the BJP dissociated itself from Mr Shourie, saying he had failed to renew his membership and was no longer a party member. Yashwant Sinha quit the BJP in April last year, blaming it on the “party’s condition”.
Senior Congress leaders have gone on record saying they valued their senior leaders, unlike the BJP, which sidelines its leaders by placing them in the “Margdarshak Mandal”.
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