What actually transpired between senior BJP and RSS leaders during their talks between August 27 and 30 has been kept under wraps. Different versions, nevertheless, are doing the rounds.
Rajnath Singh was the first to call on RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat at the Sangh’s Delhi headquarters. The BJP chief offered to quit accepting “moral responsibility” for the party’s election debacle.
Another story goes that Rajnath even went with his resignation letter.
He, however, did not mince words in telling Bhagwat that his rival Arun Jaitley, in charge of the campaign strategy, had messed it up.
Rajnath also said L.K. Advani had erred by not consulting him or others before appointing Sushma Swaraj his deputy in the Lok Sabha and Jaitley Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, causing “widespread” resentment.
Irked by Rajnath’s action, senior leaders Venkaiah Naidu, Swaraj and Jaitley had met at Advani’s residence.
The trio — Naidu, Swaraj and Jaitley — met Bhagwat, after the RSS chief’s press conference where he talked of “the BJP rising from the ashes”.
Branded as “Advani loyalists”, they gave vent to all that was wrong under Rajnath’s dispensation — corruption in ticket allotment, factionalism etc.
One version is they told Bhagwat that the RSS must be clear about what the BJP should do. There was no groupism, they said, other than what Rajnath had created. They added that he must be clear on when Advani should quit — as different signals from the Sangh was “hurting” him and the party.
Bhagwat said the RSS wanted Advani to hand over the baton to the younger lot “as soon as possible”. Bhagwat said a person outside the Delhi circle of leaders might become the next BJP chief. The trio then reported back to Advani.
Advani was to meet Bhagwat, but before that his bete noire Murli Manohar Joshi called the RSS chief for lunch. Joshi pressed his case that he should be Advani’s successor — not any of the ‘loyalists’.
Then Advani met Bhagwat who told him about Rajnath’s complaint. Defending his position, Advani said the so-called loyalists were the ones who had worked hard for the party while Rajnath’s team was seen as saboteurs. Advani repeated his view that the RSS should not get into the nitty gritty of BJP affairs and must trust its judgement on who should lead the party in Parliament and outside.
Bhagwat went to Advani’s house for breakfast. He agreed that the BJP should have its way but everyone should be involved in decision-making.