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Sangh message during lull in BJP war

Wednesday, June 17, 2009, Radhika Ramaseshan, The Telegraph

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New Delhi: Battling groups within the BJP paused for reassessment today as word spread that L.K. Advani had dug in his heels and would fight back any attack on him and his camp, but the RSS made its voice heard.

 

Senior Sangh ideologue and former spokesperson M.G. Vaidya accused the BJP of “inconsistency” on Hindutva and reminded the party that however hard it had tried, it had never been able to shake off Hindutva.

 

Vaidya, writing in Tarun Bharat, a pro-RSS Marathi daily published from Nagpur, said: “BJP had adopted Gandhian socialism but it could not stop itself from being labelled a communal party. After the 1984 (poll) debacle, BJP again started chanting Hindutva.”

 

As if on cue, party president Rajnath Singh, who sources said could not decide whether he should side with Advani or the RSS, swore allegiance to Hindutva.

 

“I want to put this bluntly that I still abide by the ideology of Hindutva which I have followed ever since I commenced my political career,” PTI quoted the BJP chief as saying in Ghaziabad.

 

Yesterday, Rajnath had acted on Advani’s “diktat” that an example should be made of Yashwant Sinha and the former Union minister handed “swift punishment”, sources said.

 

Sinha, in a five-page letter that was a veiled attack on Advani and his loyalists, had called for collective responsibility for the election debacle and offered to resign from all party posts. Rajnath promptly accepted the resignations.

 

Advani, the sources said, had not forgotten that it was Sinha who in June 2005 had first demanded he should quit as BJP president for praising Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Advani finally had to step down under RSS pressure.

 

The sources said Sinha’s letter was “leaked” to the media by the Advani camp.

 

Word went around today that Advani was far from being “beaten and bruised”. “At least for the moment, it appears that he is unlikely to go down without a fight,” a party source said.

 

Senior leaders and office-bearers who had been getting ready to follow Sinha and resign to put pressure on the Advani camp then pulled in their punches, the sources said.

 

Former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Shanta Kumar and general secretaries Gopinath Munde and Vijay Goel were among the leaders who had planned to protest against the party “rewarding failure and punishing success” — as they see the appointment of Advani and that of his loyalist Arun Jaitley, who was the campaign in-charge, as leaders of the Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

 

The disgruntled leaders had hoped to time their resignations with the national executive, which meets for the first time after the elections on June 20 and 21 in the capital, and force a free-wheeling debate on the subjects raised by Sinha.

 

But even if Advani appears to have outflanked his BJP detractors for now, the RSS is making sure it is heard.

 

Sangh sources said that while the leaders were not expected to be as “pro-active” as they were during the crisis inspired by Advani’s praise of Jinnah in 2005, they would put issues like Hindutva on the party’s table “in their own way” and “force” the BJP to take an unequivocal position.

 

Vaidya’s article today is an indication of this.

 

Although Vaidya is no longer in the core group of the RSS, Sangh sources said he was “used” whenever the RSS wanted to “send a message” to the BJP. Vaidya’s son Man Mohan is a senior RSS office-bearer and close to sarsanghachalak Mohan Bhagwat. “His writing cannot be dismissed easily,” a BJP source said.

 

 

 

 

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