Debating India

Now a "sacrificial lamb" for RSS?

Thursday 30 June 2005

Move to help Advani keep his job as party chief and stay Leader of the Opposition

BJP leaders working on possible deal But no one sure RSS will go for it Discreet silence over Sinha issue

NEW DELHI: There were strong indications here on Wednesday that the Bharatiya Janata Party was getting ready to "sacrifice" its national secretary Sudheendra Kulkarni to buy more time for party president L. K. Advani from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh bosses. Mr. Advani had offended them by his Jinnah remarks recently.

Party leaders informally told reporters that Mr. Kulkarni, who is also Mr. Advani’s secretary, could be offered to the RSS as a "sacrificial lamb" to help Mr. Advani keep his job as party chief. Apparently, some leaders are working on this plan although there is no indication that the RSS is willing to accept the offer.

Three days ago, RSS joint general secretary in charge of BJP affairs Suresh Soni had a lengthy meeting with Mr. Advani at his residence. There are reports that "very soon" Mr. Advani may have to give up at least one of his two positions - party president and Leader of the Opposition.

It is learnt that Mr. Advani is keen on keeping both; otherwise he would not have replaced M. Venkaiah Naidu as party president a year ago.

For, by that time he was already Leader of the Opposition, party sources indicated.

Some time ago the RSS leadership took up the issue of one-man, one-post with the BJP. Mr. Advani’s recent statement that Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah was "secular" has given a renewed urgency to the issue.

The party is gripped by another urgent problem - the admitted "perception" that Janata Dal (United) president George Fernandes met RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan in Nagpur to intercede or even plead the case of Mr. Advani as BJP chief to prevent the National Democratic Alliance falling apart.

BJP leaders denied that Mr. Fernandes was pleading on behalf of Mr. Advani, but admitted that "that was the perception" and it was "damaging" to the party.

The BJP maintained a discreet silence on the remark by the former External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha, that he had only raised issues of the "party’s ideology" and in the "people’s interest."

It came a day after the BJP announced that he was no longer on the panel of its spokespersons.

Spokesman Prakash Javadekar said: "I have not heard what Mr. Sinha said today." In Jamshedpur, Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda said the sacking of Mr. Sinha from the post of spokesperson was not for his remarks against his government.

``The action, taken by the party high command, has nothing to do with his remarks on Jharkhand,’’ Mr. Munda told newspersons. He, however, welcomed ``constructive criticism’’ about the performance of his Government.

See online : The Hindu

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