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Govindacharya extends leave

New Delhi, Jan. 16: K.N. Govindacharya has extended his agyatvaas (self-enforced sabbatical) until April, apparently hoping that by then the RSS and the BJP would find a position suited to his experience and political understanding.

The former BJP general-secretary’s two-year sabbatical ended on January 14. He had indicated on previous occasions he would unveil his plans when that happened.

But today, on his return to Delhi from Varanasi, Govindacharya told journalists that he needed three more months to give finishing touches to his work on Globalisation: Its Impact and its Alternatives, which he undertook while on study leave.

BJP sources said the party has not yet found a job that would match Govindacharya’s “seniority, stature and intellect”. In the present dispensation, party president M. Venkaiah Naidu is his contemporary as also general-secretary Arun Jaitley. The others such as Rajnath Singh and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi are far junior.

Govindacharya, as political secretary to L.K. Advani when he was the BJP president and the party’s key strategist during its political ascent in the Ramjanmabhoomi era, overshadowed second-rung leaders such as Naidu and Pramod Mahajan — a factor clearly weighing with the leaders whenever the question of his rehabilitation crops up.

Govindacharya’s scepticism about globalisation and fast-track reforms and his advocacy of Gandhian economics, with an emphasis on a rural-based decentralised economy, were considered as verging on “obscurantism” in the BJP, that endorsed the NDA government’s policies on disinvestment and privatisation in toto.

The BJP was of the view that debates on disinvestment and privatisation were passe, now that the political spectrum, including the Left, had accepted these “in practice”.

Sources, however, said the single most important obstruction to his reinduction is the alleged opposition from Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who is still chafing from his description as the BJP’s “mukhota (mask)”, attributed to Govindacharya.

Though the BJP may be exaggerating the intensity of Vajpayee’s supposed anger, it has had the effect of ensuring the removal of Govindacharya — credited with introducing the concept of “social engineering” in a conservative party — from his official post and his ouster from the party national executive.

After he was dropped like a hot potato from the organisation, Govindacharya became persona non grata to the BJP. According to sources, even his mentor Advani distanced himself from him.

Former leaders of the RSS’ students wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarti Parishad, such as Arun Jaitley, Rajkumar Bhatia and Madan Das Devi, the RSS second-in-command, were reportedly in touch with him.

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