The year 2009 turned out to be a crucial year for the BJP which has
effected generational change in the party and the Parliamentary
leadership, virtually placing its octogenarian leader L K Advani in
the fade out mode.
party reigns have been handed over to its Maharashtra leader Nitin
Gadkari, who has been chosen to use his dexterity in political
administration to lead a party which is yearning to emerge as an
alternative to the Congress.
party elevated Advani to a newly created post -- Chairman of the
Parliamentary Party with powers to nominate persons of his choice to
the constitutionally recognised posts -- Leaders of the Opposition
in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
Sushma Swaraj, who functioned as Advani's deputy, has been promoted
as the Leader of the BJP in the Lok Sabha and Arun Jaitley has been
promoted as the Leader of the party in the Upper House of
Parliament. With this action, they will be able to function as
Leaders of the Opposition in their respective Houses.
Jaswant Singh was eased out of the BJP in the context of writing a
book -- 'Jinnah; India-Partition-Independence'. The party took
exception to his statement that Jinnah was needlessly blamed for the
Partition. Singh, who was invited to the Chintan Baithak, the brain
storming session to discuss the causes of defeat in the Lok Sabha
elections at Shimla, was asked to stay away from the Parliamentary
Board meeting which decided to expel him from the party. Singh
charged the party of acting without reading his book.
Whatever may be the fact, it is ironic that Pakistan's founding
father Mohammad Ali Jinnah has been the reason for Advani and Singh
to lose their posts. Advani had to quit his BJP president's post
after describing Jinnah as a secular leader and Singh was expelled
from the party for eulogising Jinnah. He had to quit as Chairman of
the Public Accounts Committee, a post he had been elected to as a
BJP MP from Darjeeling, from where he won with the support of Gorkha
BJP may have emerged as the major political party in the Lok Sabha
winning 117 seats but its failure to wrest power from the Congress
despite projecting its best bet -- L K Advani, had come in for a lot
of criticism in the party itself. Advani too was reluctant to become
Leader of the Opposition after this debacle but was persuaded to
accept it obviously to ensure smooth transfer of power. There was
uncertainty about the timing of his quitting. Ultimately he had to
give up the post of Leader of the Opposition making way to Swaraj to
succeed him and give up a constitutionally recognised post entailing
the status of a Cabinet Minister.