India's opposition leader LK Advani has taken back an offer to resign as president of his BJP party.
Advani's resignation offer sparked turmoil in the BJP
BJP spokesman Sushma Swaraj announced the decision after a crisis meeting of the party.
Mr Advani offered to step down after he described Pakistan's founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah as "secular", causing a furore in India.
Mr Jinnah is still widely blamed for the partition of India because of his drive for a Muslim homeland.
Ms Swaraj told journalists that the party viewed Mr Advani's recent trip to Pakistan as a success and a major step in furthering the peace process between the two countries.
A statement issued by the party after a key meeting in Delhi praised Mr Advani's "path-breaking visit to Pakistan" and "appreciated" the Pakistan government's invitation to the BJP leader to inaugurate a restored Hindu temple.
But the statement also reiterated the BJP's position that "whatever may be Mr Jinnah's vision of Pakistan, the very idea of Hindus and Muslims being two separate nations is repugnant to it."
"The BJP has always condemned the division of India on communal lines and continues to steadfastly reject the two-nation theory championed by Mr Jinnah and endorsed by British colonialists," the statement said.
Mr Advani had been upset that the party has not backed him and taken a position on his comments in Pakistan.
During his six-day visit to Pakistan Mr Advani spoke of Mr Jinnah's "forceful espousal of a secular state in which every citizen would be free to practice his own religion".
His comments were strongly criticised by Hindu nationalist groups allied to the BJP and has divided his party down the middle.
On Thursday, senior party leader Murli Manohar Joshi joined the criticism of Mr Advani.
Mr Joshi, a former education minister, said the party was passing through a "difficult stage" which must be speedily resolved - "We cannot describe Jinnah as secular," he said.
Mr Joshi's comments were seen as significant because he is one of the three founding members of the BJP along with Mr Advani and former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
But Mr Advani stood behind his comments.
"I have not said or done anything in Pakistan which I need to retract or review", Mr Advani wrote in a letter to a senior party member requesting the BJP to "relieve" him of the post of party leader.
Mr Advani is considered one of the more hardline members of the Hindu nationalist BJP. He could still face criminal charges for his role in the destruction of a mosque in the northern city of Ayodhya by a mob in 1992.
If you would like to send a comment about this story you can use the form below this selection of comments.
Mr. Advani's resignation smacks of the usual Indian political drama of getting sympathy votes. I feel it was all stage managed to appease the Muslim voters of India, in preparation for the coming state assembly elections. Hey Ram.
In the post 9/11 era there is an evolving change in Geo-political consciousness all over the world. Victory sans ammunition with a long term gains is the Aim. Economic, cultural and educational integration seems to take an upper hand over entrenched political and religious rhetoric and fundamentalism. I welcome this whole heartedly and I welcome Advani's change in Attitudes. It is for the better of India, for Pakistan and for the whole of the subcontinent.
Pakistan and India can only move forward by forgetting about the past and stop playing the blame game. This is how Israel and Palestinians are moving forward. Trying to decide whether Mr. Jinnah was secular or not would not accomplish anything practically. We should join hands to look towards a brighter future by making South Asia an economic super power, reducing poverty, hunger, starvation and illiteracy. Isn't this more important.
Advani, enough of your nonsense. You have shown your true colours. BJP must take this opportunity and select a new, strong & vibrant leadership. If not, BJP, you are doomed, 100% guarantee!
Mr Advani has been one of the most radical right-wing leaders of modern India. The condemnation he is receiving back home in the light of his speech made in Pakistan is a repercussion of Advani's earlier disparaging statements regarding the Muslim community on the basis of which he won acclaim from within and outside of his party. The criticism should not be confused with nor does it demonstrate a partisan and sectarian India.
Gauri Advani, UK
Mr Advani's remarks should be analysed in the context of the present ideological battle being presently fought in Pakistan between moderates and Islamists. Mr Jinnah symbolizes the concept that "religion is not the business of the State" once independence was achieved and we should now move on. Advani's statement will go a long way in reducing tension. The hardliners must understand that we have to grasp "the fleeting moment" for our future generations.
Shahid Aziz, Pakistan
The only problem in normalising political relations between India and Pakistan is the hardliners in both the countries. If Mr Advani rightly tried to pacify the situation nothing is wrong in it. Even in Pakistan the people have different opinions whether Quaid-e-Azam wanted Pakistan a secular or religious country. Mr Advani is right in his observations.
Bashir Ahmad Malik, Pakistan
Mr Advani's comments on Jinnah was a step forward to change his party's hardline image. But, unfortunately it didn't work well. His party should understand that they lost because of their this hardline image. They should wake up to the fact that there is no place for right wing ideologies in our secular India. And I don't understand from where the VHP has got so much authority and power to change the face of Indian politics.
Shoaib Bhate, India
Mr Advani's comments have to be seen in the light of his political ambitions. He is trying to position himself as a moderate Hindu nationalist and a possible successor to Mr Vajpayee. It is ironic that a man such as Mr Advani, who has been propagating Hindu nationalist feelings should go to Pakistan and state that Mr Jinnah was a secularist. The bloodshed over the years between India and Pakistan and the bloodletting in India are a tribute to the 'great leadership' of the two countries.
Indians by large are secular and tolerant. They will realise the comments made by Mr Advani in this light very soon. One must learn to respect the leaders of other countries particularly those who are held in high esteem.
Jayshree Jindal, Mumbai, India
India and Pakistan are different states, and have equal number of differences than similarities. Secularism in democratic India cannot be used literally in Pakistan, and the scope of the term is taken at length by media and hardliners. Pakistan is a much more moderate Islamic state than the Middle East, with relatively more secularism in practise. He used the word wrongly to be picked up by world.
H Kulkarni, Australia
I'm not a big fan of LK Advani, and I believe his comments were a way of making himself shine in front of his hosts. I don't think he realised the greater impact he was having across India. However, the reaction he has received for at least showing like he is open-minded is atrocious. I was always proud of the fact that Indians were the most loving, open and tolerant people, I can't say that with such confidence anymore.
H Modha (20), UK
The hue and cry by various organisations, both the so called "secular" and the "communal", is totally unwarranted and shows a total lack of any sense of history.
It is a well established fact that Jinnah was committed to Hindu-Muslim unity and considered himself the bridge between the communities till the 1937 session of Indian National Congress. He tried hard to drive a compromise between the demands of the hardline Muslim league and what was acceptable to the Congress. But he failed because his own ego and ambition to lead the nation was thrashed in the face of the rise of Mahatma Gandhi as the new popular leader of the freedom struggle.
Shivi Krishna, India
Mr. Advani's remarks could not have come at a better time, when thinking in both India and Pakistan is geared towards bringing peace between the two countries.
AO Camara, The Gambia
It's ironic to read that Mr Advani has given such statement about Jinnah. It's no more than an excited mind of an politician, like others who are used to using the immediate environment to develop his future by hiding the truth.
LK Advani has become a wolf in sheep's clothing. He wants to be portrayed as a peaceful politician with no hidden agenda... he can never be trusted.
I strongly believe that the founder of Pakistan was a moderate, secular leader who fought for Pakistan not because the South-Asian Muslims enjoyed their religion, Islam, but because the South-Asian Muslims were not enjoying their social & economical rights under the British subjugation which could later be turned out as Hindu subjugation if partition of India would not have taken place. Mr Advani has been true in expressing RIGHT things about this great Islamic republic's founder.
Asmar Ahmad Atif, Pakistan
It is a shame that Mr Advani enjoyed power for six years riding on the Ram temple issue even though he was "sad". He should have retired from public life on 6 December 1992. I wish to know whether he was happy on 14th August 1947 or the day as home minister of India, he allowed the release of Masood Azhar from jail.
Anshuman Lath, India
While the question of whether Jinnah was a secularist or not is an open question (I personally think he was a political opportunist), I do think that the RSS etc are making much ado about nothing. Pakistan and Bangladesh are separate countries now - if Advani said something to make his hosts feel better about their past, so be it - lets move on !!!
Mr. Advani proved to be very brave for what he said in Pakistan. Before his visit, he was considered to be an extremist by majority of Pakistanis. However, his visit has changed that perception significantly. It looks like Mr Advani is trying his best to further improve the friendship environment between both countries and his statements are linked to his good intentions.
The hardliners should learn the lesson, from the last 58 years of enmity between India and Pakistan, that it is by no means healthy for South East Asia. We must adopt a flexible and friendly attitude towards each other. Mr Advani is trying to do it and the moderates in India must come for his support.
India is considered secular and democratic but I am shocked with the type of democracy it is if a leader of India praises Mohammad Ali Jinnah and becomes the victim of ruthless criticism from political parties and press. If Indians cannot tolerate positive comments for the founder of Pakistan from their leader, how can peace be restored or confidence can be established between Pakistan and India.
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