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RSS wants to reboot BJP

Leadership change in the embattled BJP is the last of the Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh’s concerns. It wants the party to change the way it’s run. Fix your system, was the message the sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat delivered to the many BJP leaders he met over the last three days. Shekhar Iyer reports.

india Updated: Aug 31, 2009 02:47 IST
Shekhar Iyer

Leadership change in the embattled Bharatiya Janata Party is the last of the Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh’s concerns. It wants the party to change the way it’s run.

<b1>Fix your system, was the message the sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat delivered with his characteristic bluntness to the many BJP leaders – big and small – he met over the last three days.

Bhagwat wrapped up his Mission Delhi with a breakfast with the BJP leader of opposition under fire LK Advani at latter’s residence, on Sunday.
http://www.hindustantimes.com/images/Advani and Bhagwat.jpg
LK Advani (right) sees off Mohan Bhagat after a breakfast meeting at his residence on Sunday. Fix your system, was the message Bhagwat delivered to many BJP leaders. Arvind Yadav / HT photo

The big picture that emerged after three days of back-to-back talks was this: while the succession plan was in place, the BJP must get down to the more important task of revamping itself.

Bhagwat told every BJP leader who matters that the Sangh’s was not concerned about individuals – whether it is Advani, Rajnath Singh, or for that matter anyone.

“Who’s next BJP chief and when will Advani give up may be the media’s obsession but we, at the Sangh,” said an RSS official, “are looking at the patient’s illness, which is longstanding and needs correctives.”

The sangh believes the BJP lost the last Lok Sabha elections because of rampant indiscipline, factionalism and bitter rivalries. The sangh wants the BJP leaders to focus in the next three months on their organisation for optimum results even as they put their head together to arrive at a consensus on who will be their president.

Here are the important takeaways from Bhagwat’s meetings:

Advani will decide manner and timing of his exit, and oversee transition in the party.

Rajnath will not complete his term as party president, but not second term for him. Party spokesman Prakash Javadekar said on Sunday Singh will not get a second term according to party constitution.

Sushma Swaraj could succeed Advani as Leader of Opposition.

Next BJP chief to be chosen from among a group of younger leaders including Arun Jaitely (being the first option) or a dark horse from states who will be appealing to voters.

Create a high-powered advisory mechanism with top leaders including Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi to avoid factionalism.

Meanwhile, to show it is business as usual, Rajnath Singh wrote to the Prime Minister on climate change and drought.