New Delhi, Aug 31: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani, under attack from some of his colleagues, will play a key role as he passes the baton to a younger leadership, party sources said Monday.
A BJP insider who met Advani earlier in the day told IANS that the veteran politician was "not going away anywhere for some time to come". At the same time, he was not ready to give his side of the story to the media.
"Advani is not going to vanish, he is not going away anywhere," said the source. "He is going to be around for quite some time. In fact, the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh) wants him to play a central role in reorganising the BJP.
"The RSS wants him to play some kind of a mentor as a generational change takes place in the party."
The comments came amid turmoil in the BJP following the expulsion of former cabinet minister Jaswant Singh over his book in which he said that Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah was not wholly to blame for the 1947 partition of India.
After his sacking, Jaswant Singh accused Advani of lying over the 1999 Indian Airlines hijacking to Afghanistan. The episode led to the release of three Pakistani hardcore Islamist terrorists jailed in India.
Since then, former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra and another former cabinet minister Yashwant Sinha have backed Jaswant Singh over the hijacking episode, putting pressure on Advani to give his version of what happened in 1999.
But the BJP source said that Advani would keep quiet despite all the criticism about him.
"We have been asking him to tell his story but he is not interested," the source said. "He wants to play by the rule book. He says if he starts leaking information, others will do the same."
"In any case, he knows who is keeping the media informed," he said. "But he doesn't want to do what they are doing."
There is growing speculation in the BJP that Advani, one of the best known leaders of the party, will step down, probably later this year, as leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha.
At the same time, BJP president Rajnath Singh is also expected to quit his post, leading to major changes in the leadership of the main opposition party.