Debating India

BJP

Recast RSS ties, Kulkarni urges Advani

Saturday 2 July 2005, by VYAS*Neena

Not good for BJP to be seen as being remote-controlled by an external entity, says letter

- Letter offers advice "RSS should not micro-manage party affairs"

- "Must give only strategic guidance to Hindu society" "BJP must keep off extremist elements in VHP"

- "Reach out to Indian Muslims"

NEW DELHI: Bharatiya Janata Party secretary Sudheendra Kulkarni has in his letter to president L.K. Advani not only offered "to step down" but also advised him to "recast" the BJP’s relationship with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. It was not good for the party to be seen as being "remote-controlled by an external entity," he said.

"Those are Mr. Kulkarni’s personal views, not the party’s," BJP spokesmen Arun Jaitley and Prakash Javadekar said.

In the two-page letter, said to have been delivered to Mr. Advani on June 24, Mr. Kulkarni virtually suggested that he wage a battle with the RSS and even challenge it. "The present chaotic and unsettled atmosphere in the party should not disturb you at all. You are on the right track. Others will realise it in time. You are in a unique position today to reorient the party - and also the larger polity in the country - in alignment with India’s long-term national interests."

Mr. Kulkarni gave him a string of advice. "The BJP-RSS relationship will have to be recast.

The RSS should not micro-manage the affairs of the party. It must, especially, not make any public comments on the top leaders of the party," was the first advice along with the suggestion that the RSS be not allowed to be seen as the BJP’s remote-control.

The RSS must give only "strategic guidance to Hindu society" and Mr. Advani should "proactively approach RSS leaders" to tell them to have "full faith" in his leadership.

The BJP must "completely distance itself from extremist elements in the Vishwa Hindu Parishad," which had "derailed the Hindu movement, brought a bad name to the BJP" and "weakened the larger nationalist cause."

There was need for the BJP "to reach out to Indian Muslims" and change the "mindset of our [party’s] core workers." This strategy could be tested in the coming polls in Bihar.

Lastly, "the present ideological and organisational disarray in the BJP should be set right as early as possible."

Mr. Advani could call a meeting of 50 to 100 top party leaders in small and big informal groups to discuss these issues candidly, Mr. Kulkarni said.

"Sangh support crucial"

Many in the BJP have read this as a call to Mr. Advani to declare himself a liberal leader of a liberal party and jettison the RSS and the larger Sangh Parivar.

However, most party leaders know that it will be difficult for the BJP to survive in its present form without RSS support.

In fact, senior leaders told The Hindu that they did not see Mr. Advani surviving for long as BJP president without RSS support.

See online : The Hindu

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