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Rediff.com  » News » Modi: Vajpayee wanted dissent noted

Modi: Vajpayee wanted dissent noted

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June 21, 2004 13:45 IST

Hawks in the Bharatiya Janata Party have isolated former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee twice in less than a fortnight over the issue of the removal of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

At Sunday's parliamentary board meeting convened in New Delhi to discuss the issue, Vajpayee was the only one asking for Modi's head.

The others present, including former deputy prime minister Lal Kishenchand Advani, party chief M Venkaiah Naidu, former ministers Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, supported Modi's continuation as chief minister.

A senior BJP leader, who attended the meeting, told rediff.com that Vajpayee wanted his dissent noted in the minutes of the meeting.

"This was a stormy meeting and Atalji found himself isolated at the end of three hours of deliberations on the Modi issue. He expressed his displeasure at the manner in which the matter was handled," the BJP leader said, speaking on condition that he would not be identified.

Some BJP Parliamentary Board members sympathised with Vajpayee's principled stand, thus indicating that the Modi saga is far from over.

The former prime minister, while on a holiday in Manali, Himachal Pradesh, created a storm last week by listing the Gujarat riots as one of the factors responsible for the BJP's defeat in the general election.

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Vajpayee's statement brought him under intense attack from within the BJP and its affiliates like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal.

There were reports that Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader Madan Das Devi -- who liaises between the BJP and RSS -- tried to persuade Vajpayee to give up his demand for Modi's resignation. But the former prime minister remained adamant.

"The issue is certainly not closed and we could see some fireworks at the national executive meeting in Mumbai, though Modi has got a reprieve for the time being. He will most likely continue till the Maharashtra assembly election (likely to be held in September-October) are over," the BJP leader said.

The BJP national executive will meet in Mumbai for three days starting Tuesday, June 22.

Sources in the party ruled out the possibility of Modi tendering his resignation at the Mumbai meet like he did at the BJP national executive in Goa two years ago.

"Why should Modi resign? If he does, there could be a problem. For, there is a division in the party on the issue. Last time Modi's resignation was part of a plan put in place by Arun Jaitley to save the Gujarat chief minister," another BJP leader said.

Onkar Singh in New Delhi
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