Sangh hits hard at ‘soft’ Centre
Maoists hijack Nepal ISI action
BJP unity drive for Bihar battle
Janata, Samata in peace bid

Ahmedabad, Jan. 8 
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) yesterday publicly accused the BJP of “capitulating under pressure” and taking an “obviously cowardly step” by freeing Pakistani terrorists in exchange for the Indian Airlines Airbus hostages.

Addressing nearly 30,000 RSS activists who have converged at Kathwada village, 15 km from here, for a three-day Sankalp Shibir, RSS general secretary K.S. Sudarshan said the Centre had exposed the nation as “a soft target” for terrorists by “surrendering to the hijackers of the Indian Airlines Airbus”.

Backing up his colleague, RSS chief Rajju Bhaiya said it was time “Hindus united to break the image of India being a soft state”.

In the last issue of Panchajanya, the RSS mouthpiece, he criticised the decision to release the three militants, but refrained from a direct attack on Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Taking advantage of the huge gathering of supporters, the RSS top brass reiterated their resolve to construct the Ram mandir at Ayodhya. Sudarshan, who brushed aside the dropping of the contentious issue from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) agenda, said that “mandir to ban ke rahega”. He added that the temple issue concerned not only the BJP, but the whole Hindu community.

The RSS also came down heavily on the “Islamisation and Christianisation” of India.

“We will oppose conversions of any kind tooth and nail. Hindustan should remain Hindustan. Reconversion (to Hinduism) is not wrong, but conversions must end,” Rajju Bhaiya said.

Interestingly, the RSS blamed the media for the government bungling on the hijack.

“What do you expect the government to do if all you show is crying faces everywhere?” RSS general secretary H.V. Seshadri asked. The media created an atmosphere which forced the Centre to take a decision it should not have taken, Seshadri added.

The RSS, which was all praise for Gujarat, said its shakhas were thriving in the state, with the number of activists going up to 25,000 from a mere 5,000 a decade ago.

Not just the RSS, but even the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the BJP have “scaled great heights here” Rajju Bhaiya claimed.

More than 150 RSS workers have gathered in Kathwada from places as far as the US, Japan, Australia and Europe. Among them is Mahendra Mehta, who has come down from Boston with seven others. Mehta said that the RSS had set up 50 branches all over the US.

But the loudest cheer was reserved for Mahesh Mehta, a senior scientist working on water-filtering membranes.

The scientist, who was instrumental in opening the first VHP branch in the US in 1969, received a deafening applause when he said: “Today there are 10,000 families there who are associated with the VHP and they are diligently working on waking Hindu consciousness the world over.”    

Kathmandu, Jan. 8 
Nepal is unable to launch an all-out campaign against Pakistan-prompted terrorist activities as its police force is engaged in a bloody confrontation with Maoist rebels in the western part of the country.

“We do not think that we can check ISI activity immediately as a large number of our policemen are busy fighting the Maoist guerrillas in the jungles of western Nepal,” Nepalese officials said.

Lack of resources and the porous 1,700 km-long border with India are identified as other major hindrances in the anti-ISI campaign, desired by India.

Since the beginning of the “people’s war for a new people’s republic” three years ago, Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) guerrillas have killed about 260 people, including 100 policemen, in western Nepal. Maoist sympathisers alleged that the Nepalese police have so far killed over 710 activists.

The underground Maoist movement has spread to 36 of Nepal’s 75 districts with Rukum, Polpa, Dolpa, Syangja, Baglung and Dhanusha being the most affected.

Encounters between the police and the guerrillas, raids on government establishments and desertions by government employees and teachers from western Nepal due to Maoist militancy are reported here almost every day.

Though the Nepalese Maoists’ ties with People’s War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre, which are active in neighbouring Bihar, are well-known, authorities here are trying to confirm reports about their alleged links with militant outfits from the Northeast, Kashmir and Sri Lanka. Reports about the Maoists receiving arms training in India and some of them visiting LTTE camps in Sri Lanka have also come in.

The Maoists also pose a serious threat to mainline communist organisations, like the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninists).

Before they accepted multi-party democracy, CPN(UML) leaders had launched a Naxalite-type movement in the seventies in eastern Nepal, bordering West Bengal and Bihar. The party later formed the Himalayan kingdom’s first elected Communist government in 1994.

CPN(UML) general secretary Madhav Nepal, whose party has 69 representatives in the 205-member parliament, complained that 12 of his party activists had been killed by the Maoists while 13 others had fallen to police bullets.

He added: “The Maoists are bound to fail as they are romantics and are as impatient as any other petty bourgeoisie. Moreover, they have imitated foreign revolutionaries and are split into different groups, who do not trust each other.”    

New Delhi, Jan. 8 
Fearing a split in the anti-Laloo Yadav votes, the BJP indicated that it will adopt a conciliatory attitude towards its allies on seat-sharing in the coming Assembly elections.

BJP vice-president in-charge of Bihar, Kailashpati Mishra, said shortly after the poll schedule was notified: “Our first priority is to ensure that the National Democratic Alliance does not break up in Bihar.”

Rattled by the failure of allies Samata Party and Janata Dal (United) to merge on poll-eve, party strategists have begun talks with alliance leaders to sort out differences and present a unified front against Laloo’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, BJP sources said.

Mishra has held one-to-one parleys with Samata leaders Nitish Kumar and Digvijay Singh and Ram Vilas Paswan and Sharad Yadav of the JD(U). “The signals were quite encouraging,” he said. He added the allies had agreed with the BJP on two points: first, a joint campaign will be conducted in all the major constituencies on the “oust-jungle raj” plank; and second, a chief ministerial candidate will not be projected.

“There are half-a-dozen contenders from the three main parties, so we decided that the issue is best settled after the polls if we are in a position to form the government,” sources said.

The BJP was initially inclined to use the outcome of the 1995 Assembly and 1999 Lok Sabha polls as the basis for its negotiations with allies. In both cases, the BJP was ahead of its allies though in 1995 it contested the polls alone.

The Samata Party — which clinched its alliance with the BJP only after Laloo was swept to power in the last Assembly polls — had an arrangement with Anand Mohan Singh’s Bihar People’s Party (BPP) in 1995 and was ahead of the BJP in 124 seats. Samata leaders are using this yardstick to stake claim to at least the same number of seats as the BJP in the coming elections.

In the last Lok Sabha polls, the BJP was ahead in about 180 Assembly segments while the Samata along with the Janata Dal was ahead in about 140.

BJP sources said the problem lay with the allies. The Janata Dal-Samata combine, which contested the last Lok Sabha polls as one entity, has parted ways though both parties are members of the NDA. “The trouble is that the Samata may stick to its claim of 140 seats or more, without conceding too many to the Janata Dal,” BJP sources said.

The JD(U) does not have any solid evidence of its own strength. In 1995, party leaders Paswan and Sharad had fought under Laloo’s leadership, but in 1999 they were under the Samata.

The BPP, valued by the BJP because of its appeal among upper caste Rajputs, has added to the confusion. Sources said Anand Mohan Singh had staked claimed to about 30 seats on the basis of the last Assembly polls, though his party failed to open its account in the last Lok Sabha polls.    

Patna, Jan. 8 
Senior Janata Dal (United) and Samata Party minisers from Bihar today tried to hammer out a “settlement” on the electoral battle to overthrow the “Laloo Raj”.

After talks for a merger broke down, Union ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Nitish Kumar admitted that the bickerings could dilute their anti-Laloo plank.

To put an end to the controversy over who would succeed Laloo Yadav if the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is trounced in the polls, Paswan suggested that all Central ministers from Bihar give in writing that they are not in the race.

“I have always said that I am not in the race. Other National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners are confused. Let them clarify this first,” Paswan, who is the Janata Dal MP from Hajipur, said. “One way to put an end to the confusion is to ask the Central ministers from Bihar to make a public statement saying they would not be in the race,” he added.

NDA partners in Bihar should be prepared to make a little sacrifice to accommodate everybody’s interests, Paswan said. Nitish Kumar retorted that the onus of sacrificing should not be on his party alone while the rest enjoyed the benefits.

“I believe anti-Laloo politics in Bihar cannot gather momentum without the Samata Party,” he said.

Asked if he agreed with Paswan’s suggestion, Kumar said he was “not in the race. I cannot be a claimant as I am not clever enough to stay on in the post of chief minister,” Kumar quipped.    


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