LK Advani’s hour-long consultation with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Saturday marked the completion of the Sangh’s emergency exercise to revive the party, amid indications that the BJP may announce a road map for the future soon.
<b1>Even as BJP and RSS leaders insisted there would be no immediate change in the leadership, hectic parleys indicated some change could be on the cards. Advani is believed to have conveyed his decision to retire, though no deadline has been fixed.
Bhagwat wanted an “honourable” exit for him. At the same time, party chief Rajnath Singh awaited the final word from the RSS. Advani may choose to indicate his plan to hand over the baton either at the BJP’s national executive in October or at the party’s national council in January.
Sangh Parivar leaders feel that a succession plan, if implemented now, could galvanise BJP cadres ahead of the polls in Haryana and Maharashtra.
Advani’s talks with Bhagwat came against the backdrop of the pressure mounted by rebel leaders to get him to quit. They took place after senior leaders Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitely, Venkaiah Naidu and Ananth Kumar gave their views about the state of the party under Rajnath Singh. They wanted Bhagwat to immediately intervene to check the decline.
Also, party leader Murli Manohar Joshi had two rounds of discussions with Bhagwat. This added to speculation that Joshi could be in for a key role.
Advani could ultimately be elevated as chairman of the BJP parliamentary party. Swaraj succeeding Advani and Jaitely being made the BJP president was seen as one of the strong proposals.
The RSS does not seem to have defined a new role for Rajnath Singh, the BJP’s Thakur face, yet. He could be averse to seeing Jaitely as BJP chief and being Swaraj’s deputy.