New Delhi, Nov 13 (IANS) Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Friday said the BJP was discussing the issues raised by party veterans after the Bihar rout and denied he had attacked them, including L.K. Advani.
Another union minister, M. Venkaiah Naidu, however, said that dissent should be expressed within the party and not publicly.
“Party elders including Advani and M.M. Joshi are our highly respected leaders and neither I nor any other party functionary has ever shown any disrespect to them,” Gadkari said in a statement.
“There was absolutely no question of anyone suggesting (seeking an) explanation from them and demanding disciplinary action against them,” he said from Nagpur.
Gadkari sought to clarify media reports suggesting that he sought action against the veterans who have questioned the BJP leadership following the defeat in the Bihar assembly elections.
“Reports in a section of the media indicating that I have suggested to party president Amit Shah to initiate disciplinary action against them are absolutely incorrect and misleading,” he said.
Former party presidents Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, former union minister Yashwant Sinha and former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Shanta Kumar issued a joint statement demanding that responsibility should be fixed for the party’s dismal show in Bihar.
It was widely seen as an attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, who were the main campaigners in the Bihar battle which the Grand Alliance of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar won.
Gadkari, however, maintained that the Bihar setback was a collective responsibility. “The Bihar debacle is the collective responsibility of the party and not of any individual.”
On Thursday, Gadkari was quoted as saying: “I have told Shah to initiate stringent action against those making irresponsible statements and causing damage to the party’s image.”
Venkaiah Naidu, a former BJP president, on Friday said in Bengaluru: “It would have been better if these issues were raised in the party forum rather than in public, but we take it seriously.
“Advaniji has immensely contributed to the growth and expansion of the party and we are taking note of everything,” he told the media.
“They have not come out against Narendra Modi, they have just made a comment on our strategy about Bihar.”
On Tuesday, the veteran leaders said the Bihar defeat showed that the BJP had learnt nothing from its crushing defeat by the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi in February.
“To say that everyone is responsible for the defeat in Bihar is to ensure that no one is held responsible,” said the brief hard-hitting statement signed by Sinha on behalf of the four leaders.
“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,” it said.