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RSS planning counter move

Sangh leaders are now believed to be furious with BJP President LK Advani for publicly challenging their authority.

india Updated: Sep 30, 2005 15:27 IST

BJP President L.K. Advani has sprung an unpleasant surprise on the RSS leadership: He has not only poured cold water on their expectations of his immediate exit but also caused a major embarrassment to them by publicly criticising their interference in the party affairs.

Despite a common perception, RSS leaders and spokesmen have always maintained in public that the organisation does not involve itself in the BJP's internal affairs and decisions in any way. Advani's move, at the BJP National Executive in Chennai, to openly deplore the fact that they are unduly meddling in the party's affairs has put on record that their claims have been untrue.

Sangh leaders, who were earlier upset with NDA convenor George Fernandes for telling them not to meddle in politics and stick to activities befitting a social and cultural orgnisation, are now believed to be furious with Advani for publicly challenging their authority. They argue that it'll affect the RSS image of being the all-powerful mother oganisation in the saffron Parivar.

Though RSS spokesman Ram Madhav maintained on Monday that the organisation does not interfere in BJP matters and that it would "work" with the party to try remove that impression, Parivar sources said the Sangh leadership was not likely to forgive Advani for being so "outspoken".

They would formulate their response to his attack in the coming days, and the issue will figure, besides that of the selection of a new BJP chief, at a crucial meeting of the RSS national executive in Chitrakoot from October 21 to 23, it was stated.

With the search for Advani's successor about to begin in the BJP, former HRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi and party vice president Bal Apte appear to be hot favourites for the job. A section of hardliners, particularly VHP leaders, are all for backing Joshi's candidature as they feel he can steer the BJP back to its ideological moorings.

Joshi is seen as being the only Minister in the NDA Government who did so much towards achieving the Sangh Parivar's Hindutva agenda. It is also felt that as BJP chief, he will be fully capable of resisting pressure from Advani in the party affairs and doing the RSS bidding.

Others feel it may not be possible to push for Joshi as Advani and his faction would oppose it tooth and nail, besides the fact that he does not have wide support within the BJP. In that event, Apte, a widely respected figure within the Parviar, who is in the mould of an ideologue and known for his organising abilities, could be the most likely choice. There is, of course, the realisation that someone else could finally be anointed.

First Published: Sep 30, 2005 15:27 IST