Indicating that the BJP is not likely to enter into a confrontation with its veterans who took on the leadership following the party’s humiliation in Bihar, party general secretary Ram Madhav said Thursday “if our seniors feel that there has to be an assessment, it will be considered”.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also met L K Advani Wednesday and Murli Manohar Joshi Thursday. What transpired at the meetings was not clear though a source close to Jaitley said he had only gone to invite them to his daughter’s wedding.
Ram Madhav said: “We have already started reviewing and analysing the Bihar defeat. We will continue it, including with seniors. If they feel more consultation is needed, it can be done.”
Conceding that the Bihar verdict was “a definite setback”, he said: “We will learn lessons from this experience.” The BJP and its allies won 58 seats in the 243-seat assembly, prompting several MPs from Bihar to speak out against the leadership, especially BJP president Amit Shah.
On November 10, two days after the results, four BJP stalwarts — Margdarshak Mandal members Advani, Joshi, former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha and former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Shanta Kumar — stunned the party by issuing a statement targeting the current leadership.
Though they did not name any leader, the statement was seen as an attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. The BJP elders said the party was being “forced to kow-tow to a handful” after being “emasculated” in the last year, and that its “consensual character has been destroyed”.
But Ram Madhav, while rejecting the view that the elders had used the Bihar debacle to attack the leadership, said: “They have expressed their concerns and it is not correct to say that they used the opportunity.”
BJP sources said there would be attempts by the party to “cool down tempers” and “try to soothe” feelings. A senior party leader said there may not be any action against those who have publicly criticised the leadership.
“See, the Bihar result was unexpected. Everyone felt anguished and disappointed. So if you start taking action (against those who have criticised the leadership), it will be confusing that against whom you will take action… This controversy has to die down. The best way for it is to address the concerns expressed by them,” a leader said.
Meanwhile, sources from the camp of the party elders said they will be “waiting and watching” the leadership’s response to the issues they have raised.
The four leaders, who have been excluded from the decision-making process ever since Shah took charge of the party, said the Bihar results showed that “no lesson has been learnt from the fiasco” in Delhi where the party won just three of 70 seats.
They also hit out at the BJP parliamentary board’s conclusion that the party would take collective responsibility for the defeat saying “to say that everyone is responsible for the defeat in Bihar is to ensure that no one is held responsible. It shows that those who would have appropriated credit if the party had won are bent on shrugging off responsibility for the disastrous showing in Bihar. Seeking an assessment of the Bihar outcome, they demanded that it should not be done by the very persons who managed and were responsible for the campaign in Bihar.