Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues tried to placate Bharatiya Janata Party leader LK Advani who had publicly expressed his anguish at the prospect of a total washout of the winter session of Parliament, party president Amit Shah on Tuesday failed to control his temper in the meeting of BJP’s national office-bearers as many of them expressed their misgivings and described the negative fallout of the government’s decision on November 8 to withdraw high value-currency notes.

“Amit Shah lost his cool as the majority of national office-bearers of the party reported that the demonetisation had backfired,” said a BJP general secretary who was present in the meeting. “What in particular made him [Shah] very upset was the view of some of the participants that party might not have faced such a serious crisis had Modiji gone for wider consultations before taking the decision.”

According to a party vice president who was also part of the deliberations, “One of the participants went to the extent of saying that the party’s image has started getting tarnished along with the image of Modiji because of the government’s demonetisation decision and that the government would have to do rapid course correction in order to win back the confidence of the people.”

Apparently the negative feedback of party’s office-bearers irked Shah so much that he is said to have lost his temper. “He shouted at us and directed us to make Modiji’s historic decision a success,” said the BJP general secretary.

Thursday’s meeting of BJP’s national office-bearers was meant to discuss party’s strategy to communicate to people about the benefits of demonetisation in the poll-bound states, particularly in the politically crucial Uttar Pradesh.

Advani’s anguish

The meeting took place merely hours after Advani was seen in the Lok Sabha expressing his anger at the failure of the Treasury benches to ensure a discussion on demonetisation in the house. The senior party leader appeared so disappointed that he even said in the presence of union ministers Rajnath Singh and Smriti Irani and Trinamool Congress MP Idris Ali that he was considering resigning from the Lok Sabha.

“Had Atalji [former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee] been active, he would have been equally disappointed,” Idris Ali said, quoting the BJP veteran. “Advani also said that if it [a discussion] does not happen and Parliament is adjourned sine die without a discussion, it will be considered a washout.”

Soon after the veteran leader’s outburst, Modi spoke to him on the phone, trying hard to convince Advani that disruption was caused not by the government but by the Opposition, according to people familiar with the situation.

They said that Advani asked Rajnath Singh to tell Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to ensure a smooth functioning of the House on Friday so that there could be a discussion on the demonetisation decision of the government.