Advani blog: Sena fumes, JD(U) welcomes prediction
A political storm has stirred up over Bharatiya Janata Party veteran L.K. Advani's blog post predicting a non-Congress, non-BJP prime minister after the next polls, with ally Shiv Sena terming it "demoralising" and another ally Janata Dal(United) (JD-U) welcoming it.
Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray slammed Advani's post, saying it was akin to conceding defeat "without even entering the boxing ring" and asked the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) "not to lose heart". JD(U) MP Shivanand Tiwari, however, defended Advani, saying his assessment is "impeccable".
"Advani-ji has a lot of experience.... He has contested several elections and has toured the country extensively. He understands the pulse of the country's politics and the trends. In today's political scenario, there is no one like Advaniji," Tiwari, who is believed to be close to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, told a news channel Tuesday.
Asked whether the Bihar chief minister was eligible to become prime minister, Tiwari said: "There is nothing wrong with his eligibility (for the post of the prime minister)."
"People are talking and writing about him as the probable (prime) minister," he added.
Old ally Thackeray, in a strongly worded editorial in Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna, however, said: "If Advani has any doubts, he can come to me at Matoshri (Thackeray's residence in Mumbai) and I will give him a dose of morale and strength."
The Sena chief said the next prime minister should be from the NDA and that decision could be taken after the elections are over.
"No point conceding defeat now, without even entering the boxing ring."
"This (Advani's musing) is like a general saying before a war that there is no guarantee on the outcome, and demoralising the entire army," Thackeray said, asking the NDA to prepare for the general elections with renewed vigour.
"Friends, don't lose heart. There is no need to make such grim predictions and break the morale of our activists," he said.
Thackeray even took a dig at Advani, saying: "Advani himself has been a prime ministerial contender over the years and if there is consensus, his wish can also be fulfilled". He added that the comment would "add fuel to the fire" of ambitions in Nitish Kumar and Narendra Modi for the prime minister's post.
Tiwari argued that the comments would not demoralise the NDA, but did not spare the BJP and said they have done little to soothe the people who are fed up with corruption, unemployment and price rise.
"There is price rise, unemployment, corruption, but the BJP is not fighting a sustained battle against these evils... In Uttar Pradesh, Punjab elections, there was anti-incumbency factor which should have benefited the BJP but it didn't," said Tiwari.
Tiwari's comment come a day after his party chief Sharad Yadav said he did not agree with Advani's prediction.
"Advani is an elder statesman and so many times he has risen above party lines while making comments. But I am not in agreement with his prediction," Yadav said Monday.
The BJP's former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa has, meanwhile, written a letter to Advani complaining about the blog.