DELHI (Agencies) Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) senior leader L K Advani on Friday handed over the baton of Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha to Sushma Swaraj and assumed charge as the first chairman of the BJP Parliamentary Party.
The Parliamentary Party earlier unanimously amended its constitution to enable the transition. While relinquishing his post, Advani asserted that he felt a sense of relief and satisfaction, but said it was not the end of his active political career. The BJP has opted for a generational change in its leadership to meet the future political challenges. Arun Jaitley is the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.
In another leadership change, Nitin Gadkari is expected to be named as new party President to replace the veteran Rajnath Singh, who has been roundly blamed for the BJPs recent string of disasters in regional and national polls.
Swaraj is the first female politician to be appointed as the leader of the Opposition in parliament and is seen as a moderate in the socially conservative party that lost heavily in general elections in May.
Advani, who served as BJP deputy prime minister for two years from 2002, will now occupy the largely ceremonial post of parliamentary chairman, the party announced.
It is an end of Advanis political career and Sushma is a good choice, said political analyst Sanjay Kumar at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, an independent research institute.
In the 1992, Advani led a drive in overwhelmingly Hindu India for the desecration of the 16th Century Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, which led to inter-religious riots nationwide.
Political commentators said Sushma Swarajs responsibility would include the consolidation of the party, which has been wracked by squabbling.
The party and its allies won just 159 seats in the 543-member parliament in the national elections in May.