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BJP taking steps to rectify past mistakes: Joshi - The Observer

Observer Political Bureau ()
23 December 1996

Title : BJP taking steps to rectify past mistakes : Joshi
Author : Observer Political Bureau
Publication : The Observer
Date : December 23, 1996

Calling for a more effective and quicker response from the party leadership
to tackle the "epidemic" of infighting afflicting different state Bharatiya
Janata Party units, former BJP president Murali Manohar Joshi has said the
party is corrective steps to rectify its past mistakes.

According to Mr Joshi, these mistakes cost the party an absolute majority in
the recently-held Uttar Pradesh assembly elections as also the embarrassing
reversal suffered in Gujarat. In an interview to a private television
channel 'Home TV,' to be telecast on Monday, the senior BJP leader, however,
refused to blame any individual for the mistakes and explained them away as
the collective responsibility of the party leadership as a whole.

His remarks come at a time when the party is witnessing behind-the-scenes
power struggle, and also when it is scheduled to elect a new party president
in a few months time after current incumbent L K Advani completes his second
consecutive two-year term as the party chief, for its constitution bars a
person from holding the party presidentship for more than two consecutive

For the record, Mr Joshi declared that he is not even a candidate for the
post. "No I am not a candidate," he said in response to specific queries on
the leadership issue, and said his hands are full at the moment with
important party work.

"I am working as the Public Accounts Committee chairman in the Parliament. I
have so many things on my hand and I am working for the party in full steam,"
he said, adding that "anybody can be the president."

Yet, at the same time, he obliquely criticised the present party leadership
for the setbacks in Gujarat and more importantly in UP.

On differences in the BJP units in Delhi, Rajasthan and MP, he described them
as "epidemic" that required speedy surgical treatment. "The party needed to
act with more speed and understanding to tackle the situation," he said,
adding that the tendency of some leaders to air their opinions in public
before being discussed in the party forum is harming the party, and is one of
the reasons behind the party's failure in UP.

"(We need) changes in certain behavioural methods such as people rushing to
the Press sans careful thought. This is the sort of thing which harms the
party and has to be carefully attended to," Mr Joshi said.

"It is a question of not airing certain views which are not conducive for the
party growth. They should be discussed in the party forum first," he said in
reply to queries on the failure in UP.

On the recent Gujarat debacle, Mr Joshi said the party had learnt important
lessons from it, adding no one can be proud of what had happened to the party

"We have taken lessons from what happened in Gujarat. There's no question of
embarrassment, but no one can be proud of what happened," he declared.

The BJP leader admitted that "we have learnt that we should not repeat the
same mistakes. We should have been more careful in selecting candidates and
in taking stock of the situation. The Mehta ministry must have been more

"When an epidemic spreads, it affects even the healthiest persons. I would
say that the way the epidemic has come and spread we are trying to have all
methods to control it and to immunise the body of the party. But I would say
we need a little bit more speed, a little more deeper understanding and also
quick action. The attempts to control this epidemic needs speedy action," Mr
Joshi said.

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