Advani to step down in Dec

New Delhi, September 18:

The leader of India’s Hindu nationalist opposition party today announced he will step down in December following a revolt within the party over his praise of the founder of Pakistan, a report said. Former Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani made the announcement at a meeting of his Bharatiya Janata Party in the southern Indian city of Chennai, the Press Trust of India said. Advani didn’t quit immediately, apparently because of legislative elections in Bihar scheduled for next month. The sharpest attack on Advani came from hard-liners in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP’s ideological parent organisation. Its chief, K Sudarshan, demanded that Advani resign.

Advani didn’t say whether he would also quit his post as opposition leader in Parliament, the news agency said. Advani first offered his resignation after his return in June from Pakistan, where he described the country’s founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, as an outstanding leader and a secularist. He withdrew his resignation after receiving support from former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, former Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh and some other key party leaders. However, the RSS and other BJP leaders continued to demand his resignation.

Jinnah is widely reviled in India as the man responsible for the partition of the continent that created predominantly Muslim Pakistan in 1947 at the end of British colonial rule.