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When the BJP Sangh the blues

The RSS is clear that it will brook nothing less from the BJP than a return to its core Hindutva ideology. For this, it wants a change in the party’s leadership, writes Pankaj Vohra.

india Updated: Jul 19, 2009 21:45 IST
Pankaj vohra
Pankaj vohra
Hindustan Times

A change in the top BJP leadership is imminent. It is also more or less certain that the BJP will have to reiterate its total commitment to the ideology of Hindutva if it wants to retain the support of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). A decision on the leadership change is expected to be finalised by the RSS shortly. Indications are that the saffron party is all set to return to the beliefs of the late Jana Sangh ideologue, Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya.

A recent meeting of RSS leaders in Meerut, attended by key pracharaks, laid down the blueprint for the BJP’s future. There was unanimity on the party’s commitment to its core issues. Most participants favoured a change in leadership in order to restore the party’s credibility. Top RSS leaders feel that some BJP leaders had misled them and the time had come to reiterate that a commitment to its ideology is the cornerstone of the party.

Last month, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, while talking to Sangh volunteers in Bihar, outlined his priorities. For him, ideological sanctity was more important than attaining power. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has also been stressing that the BJP should have a leadership acceptable to all the constituents of the Sangh parivar. Within the RSS too, a review of assignments has begun. Madan Das Devi who played a major role in getting L.K. Advani’s name cleared as prime ministerial candidate in the Lok Sabha elections has been marginalised.

Sources close to Rajnath Singh have also indicated that a consultation process has begun within the BJP in order to respond to the concerns of the RSS. Though there is resistance in some quarters, it is evident that not many BJP leaders will oppose the Sangh’s diktats. The recent squabbles in the party following an open revolt by senior functionaries like Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, all considered a part of Advani’s coterie at one time, has made things easy for the RSS.

The RSS is disillusioned with several facets of the BJP’s leadership, the main one being that some BJP leaders had presented an erroneous picture of its electoral prospects to the Sangh. The Sangh was also unhappy that these functionaries had cut the BJP loose from its ideological moorings and tried to make the party a wannabe Congress. What was even more unpalatable was that till date Advani has not withdrawn his remarks on Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

The RSS was first told that the BJP was going to form the government and may get between 150 and 200 seats. Once the BJP failed to even touch 120, the RSS was assured that those responsible for the defeat, including the prime ministerial candidate, would step aside to pave the way for a new leadership. But Advani’s continuance as the leader of opposition provoked the Sangh into acting.

The RSS is upset that Rajnath Singh has constantly tried to mislead its top leadership. Therefore, even though Rajnath’s term as the party president is till January next year, he may be asked to make way for a new incumbent earlier. With the BJP scattered, the VHP shattered and the RSS confused, the Sangh feels that the Congress can sit back and watch the parivar self-destruct. Between us.