New Delhi: Two days after the BJP suffered a rout in Bihar, party veterans, including L.K. Advani, on Tuesday took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, demanding “a thorough review” of the debacle but said it can’t be done by those who were responsible.
In a virtual challenge to Modi’s leadership since he led the BJP to power in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Yashwant Sinha and Shanta Kumar said the Bihar defeat showed that the BJP had learnt nothing from its crushing defeat by the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi in February.
The joint statement, signed by former finance minister Yashwant Sinha, followed a meeting of the leaders that was also attended by former central minister Arun Shourie, who has publicly blamed Modi, Shah and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for the Bihar defeat.
“The result of the Bihar election shows that no lesson was learnt from the fiasco in Delhi,” the hard hitting statement said.
“To say that everyone is responsible for the defeat in Bihar is to ensure that no one is held responsible.”
Advani and the other seniors said that a review of the Bihar rout — where the Bharatiya Janata Party won just 53 of the 243 assembly seats — “must not be done by the very persons who have managed and who have been responsible for the campaigning in Bihar”.
In a direct attack on Modi and his confidant Shah, it said “a thorough review must be done of the reasons for the defeat as well as the way the party is being forced to kowtow to a handful and how its consensual character has been destroyed”.
The statement said the principal reason for the party’s defeat in Bihar “is how the party has been emasculated”.
While Advani is credited with building the BJP since it was left with just two Lok Sabha seats in 1984, Joshi – like Advani – has been a former party president. Shanta Kumar is a former Himachal Pradesh chief minister who has been critical of Modi in the past.