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Rocked by wars within

Sudheendra Kulkarni triggers a free-for-all in BJP; Patil’s arrest forces NCP to look within and CPM struggles to come to terms with corruption rap, reports Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Jun 09, 2009 01:25 IST
Shekhar Iyer

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in the grip of a fresh row, as L.K. Advani’s key strategist, Sudheendra Kulkarni (52), openly blamed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for the poll debacle.

He wrote in Tehelka magazine that the RSS made Advani (81), “look weak, helpless and not fully in command” vis-a-vis his Congress counterpart, Manmohan Singh.

An upset Advani called up Kulkarni to convey his disagreement. He said he himself had conveyed thanks to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat recently for working closely with the BJP.

Advani told Hindustan Times, “I totally disagree with what Kulkarni has written. It is wrong to say the Sangh made me seem weak when it cooperated all along in this campaign.”

Advani also said he was anguished that Kulkarni, perceived as his close aide, went public with his opinion about party matters.

But other BJP leaders said Kulkarni was no ordinary BJP official. His comment added fuel to the infighting when the debate was on whether the party should go for a modernist image.

They said Kulkarni was shifting blame to the RSS when his own management was under criticism. “He is planning his exit. So, he trashed the Sangh and the BJP,” said a party leader.

Advani’s critics said he had to distance himself from Kulkarni, as it was being inferred that the aide had written the article voicing the views of Advani.

Although Kulkarni said he was voicing what he thought was wrong, Lok Sabha deputy leader Sushma Swaraj said that the party had “totally disassociated” with Kulkarni’s views.