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Advani exit likely on December 31

Neena Vyas

NEW DELHI: Bharatiya Janata Party president L.K. Advani will exit his post on December 31, a day after the party's Mumbai conclave comes to en end.

Barring any last-minute hitches, it seems the plan is that he will hold a press conference in Mumbai around noon on December 31 and announce his resignation, although his tenure runs for another year.

Party general secretary Pramod Mahajan had hinted at this some days ago, but now the plan seems certain.

After the winter session ends next week, the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is expected to start consultations on who would get the coveted position.

After consultations within the party, he is expected to confer with at least two top functionaries of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh — head K.S. Sudarshan and general secretary Mohan Bhagwat.

In the running are Murli Manohar Joshi, Jaswant Singh, Venkaiah Naidu, Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Pramod Mahajan.

However, several of these names could be dropped in the first shortlist itself.

Mr. Naidu was Mr. Advani's favourite, but recently his daughter-in-law got embroiled in a case of sales tax arrears to the tune of Rs. 22 crores. Mr. Vajpayee may also be nursing a grouse against him for having once suggested that he give up his prime ministership to become the President (this was just before K.R. Narayanan's term as President came to an end) and make way for Mr. Advani to become Prime Minister.

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