New Delhi, Dec 11: Critical of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) choosing to announce its former president Lal Krishna Advani as the party"s Prime Ministerial candidate, a day before Gujarat going to polls, the Congress has termed it as a desperate move by the saffron party.
Reacting to the BJP"s latest announcement, Congress party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmad said: “They (BJP leaders) have taken this step at a time when first phase of polling in Gujarat begins."
Ahmad, who is also the Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology, said that this is “a desperate move in order to bluff the people of Gujarat that the Prime Ministerial candidate would be a lawmaker from the State," adding that Advani is not a resident of Gujarat, but represents Gandhinagar (urban) Lok Sabha constituency.
He said the BJP made the move “knowing fully well that the Lok Sabha elections are far away in 2009."
Another Congress leader said that the BJP move would not affect the Gujarat polls, as nobody likes Advani in the State. After Advani saluted Jinnah in Karachi, his effigies were burnt, the Congress leader working in the State added.
The BJP on Monday announced Advani as the party"s candidate for the Prime Minister in the next Lok Sabha election, after the decision in this regard was taken unanimously at the party's parliamentary board meeting.
Former Prime Minister and BJP stalwart Atal Behari Vajpayee also reportedly supported Advani as prime ministerial candidate, and is said to have distanced from active politics due to his health problems.
Advani, known as the hardliner within the BJP, had to give up the party presidentship after the 2004 general elections amidst his controversial remark in Pakistan about Mohammed Ali Jinnah as a secular leader.
The Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Advani was the Deputy Prime Minister in the previous NDA government and was in charge of the crucial Home Ministry.
Born in Karachi on November 8, 1927, Advani was educated at St. Patrick's High School, and later completed his graduation from D G National College in Hyderabad, now in Pakistan. Journalist by profession, he joined Rashtriya Swayamsewak Singh (RSS) in 1942 and became the Secretary of its Karachi branch in 1947.
He was the president of the Delhi State Jana Sangh from 1970 to 1972 and was detained under the MISA in Bangalore during the emergency. Advani has been the Leader of Opposition in the Parliament on three previous occasions. He was the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha from January to April 1980, in Lok Sabha from November 1991 to July 1993 and again in May 2004.
He was also the Information and Broadcasting Minister in the Janata Government in 1977. His controversial Rath Yatra in 1990 for building a Ram temple at the disputed site of Babri Masjid whipped up communal sentiment in the country. He was also present at Ayodhya during the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992.