The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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RSS alters tone, slams George

New Delhi, Jan. 14: The RSS, so far indulgent towards George Fernandes, has suddenly taken a negative view, stopping just short of calling the defence minister “unprincipled”.

The latest issue (January 19) of the Sangh’s in-house journal, Organiser, has a short piece on the infighting within Fernandes’ Samata Party that ended in an uneasy truce between him and railway minister Nitish Kumar.

“A survivor that he is, the NDA convener has not lost much time in extending the olive branch to his detractors in the party,” the commentator wrote. “His current moves, however, are not so much for principle as for protecting his own interests. For, should his efforts fail, not only would he be the loser in Bihar, his very credibility as a peacemaker in the NDA and the Prime Minister’s trouble-shooter would come into question.”

Ironically, it was Fernandes’ fire-fighting abilities that had won him the Sangh’s approval.

When the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal were implicated in the murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his sons in Orissa, Fernandes was quick to give them a clean chit after a “fact-finding” visit. This was used by the RSS whenever the going got tough.

This time, however, the “swadeshi socialist” was at the receiving end of the Sangh’s sarcasm. “Socialists, as a rule, have to be waging a war — for one or the other cause. And, when there is no such cause before them, they wage a war against one another,” the article said.

Another passage on Mamata Banerjee had a condescending tone, suggesting that allies like her were forced to accept the BJP on its terms. “Look at Mamata Banerjee, who quit her post and opted out of the ruling NDA to register her protest at the continuance of the Tehelka-tainted George Fernandes in government.”

The “righteous indignation” did not pay off and Mamata had to spend two years in the cold. The wait was over, it noted, with her decision to align with the BJP in the panchayat elections.

“Mamata, true to style, announced the reunion at a public rally in the famed Parade Grounds. The man who shared the dais with her was none other than defence minister George Fernandes, whom, during the course of her speech, she praised as ‘honest’.”

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