Barely a week after stepping down, an 'unrepentant' former Bharatiya Janata Party President L K Advani said that his statement on Jinnah was made out of conviction and it was a mistake to have withdrawn his resignation after his return from Pakistan.
Conceding there was still some communication gap between him and the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh, the Leader of Opposition reiterated the point he made at the party's Chennai national executive that "lately things have happened which give the impression that the BJP cannot take a decision unless it is endorsed by the RSS."
Interestingly, in the same breath Advani said, "by and large the BJP takes its own decisions. Consultations we do have, but the RSS does not tell us, do this or don't do that".
"I withdrew my resignation because the party passed a unanimous resolution asking me to take it back. Perhaps it was a mistake to withdraw it. I should not have done that. I sometimes think I would have been better off if, first, I had not accepted the presidentship and second, if I had not taken back my resignation," he said in an interview in the latest issue of India Today magazine.
Asked whether he regretted the speech he made in Pakistan, Advani said, "I don't regret anything that I said or did in Pakistan. I feel that was something that really contributed greatly to the cause I promote. I am proud of my Hinduism. I am not against Muslims. I am not against Islam. I am not against Pakistan. I think I have served my cause and my ideology".
Asked whether what he said in Pakistan was out of conviction or was he overwhelmed by the reception there, Advani said, "It was my conviction. After all, I had said that even before I had gone to Pakistan".
On what went wrong if he had only repeated an old speech, he said, "newspaper headlines and television sound bytes. 'Jinnah Secular, says Advani' -- that is the stuff that will shock. For the first time in my life I found that I was out of tune with my ideological family."
"My greater regret is that my party missed a golden opportunity. After all, I was the person who was the personification of everything that is against Pakistan, against Muslims. Suddenly, every political party, from the Muslim League to the Mohajir Quami Movement to the Pakistan Peoples Party, was wooing me -- come to us. That means, they felt "here is a person who is proud of his Hindutva, who thinks that India is what it is today because of its Hindu culture," he said.
Maintaining he did not say Jinnah was the most secular, the former BJP chief said, "I did not go to Pakistan as a scholar or a historian. I went to promote the dialogue which was started by us and carried forward by this government. When they invited me I thought that though I was the Leader of the Opposition, they felt I could play a role in that and my task was to promote this further."
Asked whether he felt let down by the party, he said, "It is my failure to communicate. I do not feel let down by the party".