With BJP losing its only government in the south, party leader L K Advani today said the Karnataka poll verdict has not come as a surprise to him and it serves as a lesson to both his party and Congress about not "taking the common man for granted".
Critical of the party's handling of Karnataka affairs, he maintained it had been "absolutely opportunistic" and said BJP's response to the crisis there was "not at all a minor indiscretion".
On the removal of Union Ministers--P K Bansal and Ashwani Kumar, Advani cited reports of Sonia Gandhi 'sacking' two 'PM's men' and questioned if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had "abdigated" his right to decide his own Cabinet.
"Sheer self-respect demands that the PM calls it a day, and orders an early general election," he said.
Congress has, however, dismissed reports that the action against the two was taken at the insistence of Gandhi and said it was a "joint decision" of the Prime Minister and Gandhi.
Advani wondered that if corruption provoked indignation in Bangalore, why would it not cause the same feeling in New Delhi.
"I feel sorry that we have lost in Karnataka. But I am not surprised. The surprise would have been if we had won," Advani said on his blog.
He said, "I think the Karnataka results have a profound lesson for the BJP. In a way it has a lesson also for the Congress. The common lesson for both of us is : let's not take the common man for granted."
The BJP leader felt the Karnataka results contributed to clinching action of sacking of ministers in connection with Coalgate and Railgate, as Congress "seemed determined not to do anything about the two scams even if it meant a total washout of the second half of the Budget Session."
On the party's handling of corruption during B S Yeddyurappa's regime, Advani said had BJP taken immediate firm action, "the course of events would have been quite different".
"But for several months, frantic efforts went on somehow to keep placating him by condoning his peccadiloes," the BJP veteran said, adding that the justification given was that if the party did not adopt a 'pragmatic' approach it would lose its only government in the south.
"Our response to the Karnataka crisis was not at all a minor indiscretion. I have consistently maintained that our handling of Karnataka has been absolutely opportunistic," Advani said.
He maintained that while the common man may occasionally deviate from the norms of ethical conduct, he does feel extremely angry when he sees those at the helm of national affairs behaving immorally.
"This is the principal reason why there is such intense allergy towards politicians generally nowadays," he said.
Advani said that BJP did not throw out Yeddyurappa but it was he who broke away to form his own party.
He referred to the reports that how Sonia Gandhi overlooked "shortcomings" in Virbhadra Singh and earned an advantage in Himachal Pradesh, but BJP took pride in taking a principled stand in Karnataka.
"The consequence is that BJP has lost even the toehold it had acquired in the south," he said.
He said while instances can be cited when other parties get away with gross misdemeanours, the yardstick by which people judge BJP is not the same and they have high expectations from the party.