New Delhi: He may be down but certainly not out.
That's the message coming from senior BJP leader and former party president LK Advani.
In an exclusive interview with CNN-IBN, the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, LK Advani, said in the next round of Lok Sabha elections, he will be the prime ministerial candidate from the Opposition's side.
CNN-IBN: Is LK Advani the perennial PM-in-waiting? In 2009, the next Lok Sabha elections, will LK Advani look at himself as prime ministerial candidate or not?
Advani: According to the British tradition, the Leader of the Opposition is supposed to be the Prime Minister-in-waiting. But whether a person becomes a Prime Minister or not depends mainly on the people.
Bhupendra: What about the perception which exists within the party? Rajnath Singh was just renominated as the party President for a three-year term. Don't you feel that he should be given a chance to be the PM?
Advani: That is a question for the party and the people to decide.
Advani also said he does not expect former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to propose his name for prime ministership. "While I had given his name for prime ministership in the first place, I don't expect him to return that favour to me," Advani said.
Advani said despite being the Leader of Opposition, he was more of a consultant to the party now. "Earlier, as the Leader of Opposition, I also took great interest in organisational matters. I have stopped that now. I am more of a consultant now," he said.
Referring to the controversy regarding his Pakistan visit, Advani said, "My trip helped people get rid of the perception of that here was a man, a party which was percieved to be anti-Islam, that it was wrong perception."
Dismissing the findings of the Sachar Committee that studied the socio-economic status of Muslims, Advani said it was the 'worst kind of votebank politics being practised by the Congress party'.