Sep 09, 2006 at 08:44pm IST

Old is gold: Vajpayee tells BJP

Dehradun: BJP leader and former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee has asked his party not to write off anybody because of age.

In his almost 10-minute speech on the conclusion day of BJP’s National Executive, the 82-year-old leader said, "skills and experience sharpen with age".

Nobody should be written off because he is old, members emerging out of the three-day meet quoted Vajpayee as saying.

THE VETERAN: Former PM says the meeting youths’ expectations is a challenge to BJP.

Vajpayee's remarks prompted BJP president Rajnath Singh to insist that the party very much needed the guidance of its veteran leaders.

The party derived its guidance and leadership from Vajpayee and L K Advani, Rajnath said. Vajpayee's comments on age, that too at the party's National Executive, came as a surprise to many in the BJP as they struggled to find out what prompted him to make these remarks.

Some leaders said they believed Vajpayee sent out a general message to the country to show respect to its senior citizens.

"He did not say anything wrong. If he says old people should be given their due respect, what's wrong in it? This is India and not Europe. He has given a message to the entire country and not the party alone," said Uttaranchal BJP State President Bhagat Singh Koshiyari. ''They will remain heads of the family'', Koshiyari said.

Vajpayee said he was happy that young people had attended the executive, as it gave party strength and responsibility to meet their hopes.

The party would meet young people’s expectations under the leadership of Rajnath Singh, Vajpayee said.

Rajnath said Vajpayee and L K Advani will continue to be the inspirational figures to the party and there was no question of dispensing with them even if they were to remain aloof.

Accusing the UPA of failing to terrorism, Vajpayee said the Government had become "confused and directionless" in the face of "naked dance by the merchants of death".

(Inputs from PTI and UNI)