India's BJP elders round on Modi after Bihar defeat

Narendra Modi campaigning in Aurangabad, Bihar (9 October 2015) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Modi himself led the campaign in Bihar

Four senior leaders of India's ruling BJP have criticised the party's campaign strategy after a humiliating defeat in state elections in Bihar.

Former deputy prime minister LK Advani and three other party elders called the outcome "disastrous".

The statement is being seen as a direct attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, who spearheaded the campaign.

Defeat in Bihar is as a major blow to the BJP after its 2014 poll landslide.

Correspondents say BJP party elders were sidelined after Mr Modi became leader in 2013 and Tuesday's statement is being read as the first sign of a rebellion.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Advani and his colleagues say they are being overlooked

"The results of the Bihar elections show that no lesson has been learnt from the fiasco in Delhi," the statement said, referring to an unexpected drubbing in state elections in the capital in February.

"The principal reason for the latest defeat is the way the party has been emasculated in the last year.

"A thorough review must be done of the reasons for the defeat as well as of the way the party is being forced to kow-tow to a handful, and how its consensual character has been destroyed.

The statement - signed by LK Advani and three former ministers, Yashwant Sinha, Murli Manohar Joshi and Shanta Kumar - said the review "must not be done by the very persons who have managed and who have been responsible for the campaign in Bihar".

A BJP statement in response said the party would "welcome any guidance and suggestions" of the senior leaders.

The BJP's parliamentary board met on Monday to discuss the defeat, which is being seen as a huge setback to the party's reform agenda.

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