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BJP veterans’ revolt: Ram Madhav says concerns ‘well taken’ care of, chapter over

New Delhi(PTI): The sharp attack by LK Advani and other BJP veterans on the party’s leadership after its staggering defeat in Bihar is now a closed chapter, a top BJP functionary said on Wednesday.

LK Advani

Ram Madhav, BJP General Secretary and a former RSS spokesperson, told PTI that concerns of the veterans had been “well taken” by the party leadership which had detailed discussions with them. “They had certain concerns about the Bihar outcome. Party has taken their views, observations seriously. Our leaders reached out to them. When you reach out to them, you will have larger discussion for longer duration. We had detailed discussions with them. Our leadership has explained its position to them.

“Those concerns were well taken by us… I think broadly that chapter is now over…I hope they are satisfied,” Madhav said, while referring to Advani’s recent statement to drive home his point.
After breathing fire at the BJP leadership, Advani had said last week in Gujarat that “consciousness” in the party had increased following its Bihar loss and also praised the Modi government, saying it is going in the right direction.

“So, broadly after our leadership’s interactions (with them), things have settled down,” Madhav said, adding that the party had learnt its lessons from the defeat but declined to elaborate. Madhav was among the few BJP leaders who had articulated the party’s position after Murli Manohar Joshi, Shanta Kumar and Yashwant Sinha besides Advani had issued a public condemnation of the leadership on the Diwali eve, saying the party had been “emasculated” in the past one year.

They had demanded that accountability be fixed for the loss. Senior party leaders, including Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh, had met Advani following the outburst. Madhav also said BJP had learnt its lessons from Bihar assembly election, in which it suffered a massive defeat at the hands of the grand alliance of JD(U)-RJD-Congress despite its high-pitched campaign helmed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself.

“We have done enough review and analysis of the outcome that was totally unexpected. Yes, it was disappointing. Several factors were there that have led to this kind of outcome. We have learnt our lessons but have decided not to discuss them in media,” he said.

Asked about the criticism of the party’s campaign by a number of Bihar leaders, he said BJP has taken it in its stride, noting that there are strong reactions to both – unanticipated victory and unexpected defeat.
“We take both in our stride… We have learnt our lessons from Bihar election. Now we have left it behind and moved on to other challenges coming. Whatever needs to be learnt has been learnt,” he said.
To a query whether BJP’s decision to project Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal as its main face in Assam assembly polls next year was necessitated by the debacle in Bihar where it was alleged to have ignore the local leadership, he said “each state and each election is different and not all elections are alike”.

Madhav, however, underlined that Sonowal was their “most important leader” in Assam. “We projected a chief ministerial candidate in Delhi, we lost. We did not project a chief ministerial candidate in Bihar, we still lost. So you cannot say because of Bihar you have projected… Bihar is different, Assam is different,” he said.

In strong signals that Sonowal could be its chief minister if voted to power, BJP recently appointed him as its Assam unit chief and also head of the Election Management Committee. However, Madhav, who handles the north eastern states in the party, declined to comment on whether Sonowal will be formally announced as its chief ministerial pick.

Assam along with Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala and West Bengal is going to the polls next year and is seen as the best bet for BJP among all five states. “In each state, there will be different milestones to be crossed. We are trying to form the next government in Assam. Even in other states we will try our best and give good performance,” he said.

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