Vajpayee quits poll politics
MUMBAI: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader A B Vajpayee stunned his party organisation on Thursday evening by announcing his decision to quit electoral politics, simultaneously making it clear that party general secretary Pramod Mahajan was the leader of the future. 

He spoke for only a few minutes, perhaps the briefest speech he has ever delivered. But what he said was enough to send party workers into a tizzy. 

Mahajan’s supporters were expectedly in an upbeat mood following Vajpayee’s speech. 

Addressing a massive rally at Shivaji Park to mark the silver jubilee of the BJP, Vajpayee (81) said he would continue to be in politics and be available to the party. 

But he would have nothing to do with electoral politics anymore. He would not contest any elections, he declared.Senior BJP leaders said they were completely taken by surprise at his announcement. 

But what was more significant was his public declaration of his preference for Mahajan. 

He compared Advani and Mahajan to Ram and Laxman, a comparison which didn’t go down well in the Advani camp given the political stature of the former deputy prime minister. 

"I feel like Parshuram at the 'rajyaabhishek' (coronation) when Ram and Laxman returned to Ayodhya after their long stint in the jungles," Vajpayee said. 

"Parshuram was angry that the bow was broken before him. But I will not be angry like Parshuram," he added.The pointed reference to Mahajan does not mean that he will replace Advani as the next president of the party. 

That role may still go to Rajnath Singh, as desired by the RSS. But Vajpayee's certificate to him will certainly be of great help to Mahajan the next time around when the leadership question arises. 

However, a BJP leader with strong RSS links said not much should be read into Vajpayee's observations about Mahajan. "Had the meeting been held in Uttar Pradesh, he would have praised Rajnath Singh. 

All that he was indicating was that the next generation should now take over the party," he noted. 

Advani, who had earlier announced in Chennai that he would step down after the silver jubilee celebrations, did not give even the slightest signal of his desire to quit
Congress has corrupted India: Advani
Adopting attack as the best form of defence, BJP chief LK Advani on Wednesday challenged Congress president Sonia Gandhi to come clean on her role in the Iraq oil scam unearthed by the Volcker Committee or quit as the chairperson of the UPA Government's National Advisory Council. "The Volcker report has only reinforced the Congress party's utter disregard for probity in public life. It is the responsibility of every member of the BJP to carry this shameless tale of sleaze to every corner of India and mobilise people to demand an explanation,'' Mr Advani told the 4,000 party delegates on the first day of the three-day silver jubilee session. The BJP chief's pointed attack might have been occasioned by the fact that Sonia Gandhi was in the city on Wednesday. But it also reflected the urgent need to boost the morale of the party's rank and file after its current bad patch. 
 In a bid to galvanise the party's rank and file, he said it was not necessary that the next election would be held only after five-years. "If they are held early, the BJP should not be found wanting." Accusing the Congress and its "ruling dynasty'' of being the fountainhead of all corruption in the country, Mr Advani regretted that some BJP leaders had also fallen prey to the disease of 'Congressisation'. 
"While that does not justify the actions of some of our own members in the recent scandal involving Parliamentarians, it reinforces our conviction that unless the Congress culture is uprooted lock, stock and barrel from our system, the task of combating corruption will never be accomplished,'' Mr Advani said. The BJP chief made a candid confession that the party had gone through a bad patch during the last 25 years. "But that should not make us forget the ground we have created during the last 25 years and our capability to forge ahead to greater heights," he said. The party's success in dislodging the 15-year-old Lalu-Rabri regime in Bihar was the latest evidence of this. Mr Advani and other leaders referred to it repeatedly to drive home the point that it heralded NDA's impending return to the nation's helm. 
While attacking Sonia Gandhi for remaining silent on how the Congress figured as one of the "non-contractual beneficiaries" in the Iraq oil scam, Mr Advani asked her to take a leaf out of the book of her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi. 
"Ms Indira Gandhi never shifted the blame on anybody else...she owned responsibility for even imposing the Emergency in 1975 but Sonia Gandhi obviously is not in the same league,'' he said. The BJP chief dared Sonia Gandhi to tell the nation how much she knew about the Volcker report and how the Congress party came to be listed as a non-contractual beneficiary of the corrupt oil deals. "As the head of the political party in power and the organisation name as a non-contractual beneficiary in the Oil-for-Food scandal, Sonia Gandhi cannot feign ignorance about the dealings of former External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh who had always been claiming that he had kept the party informed about all the happenings during his Iraq visit," he said. 
Mr Advani said that Sonia Gandhi was welcome to attack the BJP. "But she should shed light on the Congress connections with the first owned by a 'US fugitive' that handled the oil quota allotted to the Congress Party and Natwar Singh," he insisted. 
According to him, the Congress had lost all credibility and emerged as the B-team of the Marxists. "Both the Congress and the Left parties have nothing in common but anti-BJPism," he said. 

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