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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 July, 2005, 15:16 GMT 16:16 UK
Vajpayee backs beleaguered Advani
LK Advani with Shaukat Aziz in the prime minister's house, Islamabad
Mr Advani's visit to Pakistan sparked controversy back home
Former Indian premier Atal Behari Vajpayee has backed LK Advani to remain both party president and leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Mr Advani has come under pressure from hardliners in the nationalist party.

They were angered by comments he made about Pakistan's founder father, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, on a recent trip.

Some want Mr Advani to relinquish one post but Mr Vajpayee said it was the party who had asked the leader to take both posts.

Leaders of the party met in Delhi on Sunday to try to quell the rebellion over the issue.

Mr Vajpayee said he was confident the matter could be resolved.

Secular

Some senior party leaders as well as the party's sister concern, the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), have insisted that Mr Advani gives up one of the two posts.

Indian premier Atal Behari Vajpayee
Mr Vajpayee's support helped Mr Advani withdraw his resignation

The RSS is considered the ideological fountainhead of the BJP.

Analysts say tension began after the recent visit by Mr Advani to Pakistan during which he described Jinnah as secular.

The comment angered many political leaders in India, particularly the RSS, as Jinnah is viewed as the man responsible for dividing India along religious lines.

Mr Advani had been considered one of the more hardline members of the BJP.

He had offered to resign but withdrew the resignation after receiving support from Mr Vajpayee and other senior leaders.

An Indian high court recently ordered Mr Advani to stand trial for his role in the demolition of a mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya in 1992, which sparked religious riots across India.

He is accused of inciting Hindu zealots - a charge he denies.



SEE ALSO:
BJP denies Advani pressed to quit
12 Jul 05 |  South Asia
Is the BJP's leader a lame duck?
10 Jun 05 |  South Asia
BJP's Advani offers resignation
07 Jun 05 |  South Asia
'Demolition man' to build bridges
31 May 05 |  South Asia


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