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Advani must first set BJP in order

Advani must first set BJP in order

Author: Onkar Chopra
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: May 25, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/178315/Advani-must-first-set-BJP-in-order.html

John F Kennedy said, "Victory has a thousand fathers but defeat is an orphan." I personally hold Mr LK Advani in great esteem and admire his offer to resign as the Leader of the Opposition for the BJP's recent electoral defeat. It is but natural that Mr Advani would have felt disheartened at the outcome of the Lok Sabha election. However, as his personal admirer, I would not like him to retire from politics yet. For the moment, the party needs him. He should help the party to recover from the shock of electoral defeat and put the BJP house in order. Mr Advani should gracefully retire only when the BJP is back to its full strength.

I also attach great importance to two suggestions Mr Advani had made during the election campaign. First, voting should be made compulsory, and second, the tenure of the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies should be fixed.

Although former Chief Election Commissioner TN Seshan has said it is impractical to implement compulsory voting, I still strongly feel that Mr Advani's proposal in this regard must be seriously considered. Mr Seshan has argued that compulsory voting is not possible in India since no Government can punish more than one crore people if they do not vote.

I am not denying that there is merit in his argument, but the Government could institute hard measures like denial of Government jobs - both at the Centre and in the States - to those who do not fulfil their constitutional obligation of voting.

In respect to Mr Advani's second proposal for having a fixed term for the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies, I propose that defection laws be made more stringent so that legislators are discouraged from hopping parties and bringing down incumbent Governments.

Here I endorse the suggestion of Mr Seshan wherein he has called for amendments in the election expenditure rules and regulations. I agree with him when he says that the issue of election expenditure has become a big joke and that it should be borne by the Government so that money power can be kept at bay.

My humble suggestion to Mr Advani is that for the next few months he should do whatever he can to strengthen the BJP and then slowly ease himself out of active politics. He has been a great leader, but it is time for him to think about the future of the BJP and encourage new leaders to take up the reins.

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