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Days after the BJP's defeat in Karnataka, senior leader L K Advani on Sunday sought to blame the party's central leadership for the debacle. He said had the party taken firm action when it became clear that B S Yeddyurappa was "unabashedly" indulging in corruption, the course of events would have been different. He said the BJP's handling of Karnataka has been "absolutely opportunistic".
Advani said he was not at all surprised by the BJP's defeat. In fact, Advani said, he would have been surprised had the BJP won. Triggering a blame game, he said that instead of taking action against BSY, frantic efforts were made to placate him by "condoning his peccadilloes" in the name of adopting a "pragmatic approach" to save the party's only government in south India.
Advani's blog entry was a response to a murmur within the BJP that it was BSY's exit which spelt doom for the party as it resulted in division of votes. BJP leaders who peddle this line point to the role Advani and Ananth Kumar played in his exit. By laying the blame for the defeat entirely on "opportunistic" handling of affairs in Karnataka, Advani has in effect disassociated himself from the defeat and disagreed with the split of votes theory.
He argued that the Karnataka debacle has a profound lesson for the BJP as well as the Congress. "The common lesson for both of us is: let's not take the common man for granted. He himself may occasionally deviate from the norms of ethical conduct, but he does feel extremely angry when he sees those at the helm of national affairs behaving immorally," he said. "If corruption provokes indignation in Bangalore, why would it not cause the same feeling in New Delhi?" he wondered.
Citing reports which said the BJP lost Karnataka because it "threw out" BSY, Advani argued it was BSY who "broke away from the BJP" and launched his party. He said during "those months", he had often narrated to his colleagues an example of Jan Sangh, which had to expel six of eight legislators in Rajasthan after 1952 elections over their refusal to abide by the party line on abolition of jagirdari system. Advani said the then party chief Shyama Prasad Mookerji had told the Jan Sangh not to hesitate in taking disciplinary action. He said while instances can be cited when other parties get away with gross misdemeanours, the BJP should realise that the yardstick by which the people judge it was not the same by which they judge other parties. He claimed the party had aroused "high expectations" in the people by its "excellent track record" and argued that "even minor indiscretions can prove costly for us".