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Sena’s Suresh in Sangh stable

Nagpur, March 8: In a deviation from norm, former power minister and Shiv Sena MP Suresh Prabhu was invited to the RSS Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha today to address delegates on the Centre’s project to interlink rivers.

This is the first time that a leader who does not belong to the Sangh parivar was invited to what is essentially a closed-door session.

Prabhu was appointed as chairman of the project — a post equal to that of a Cabinet minister — after he was dropped from the Union Cabinet at the insistence of Sena chief Bal Thackeray.

Explaining why Prabhu was invited, RSS spokesman Ram Madhav said the concept of a national river grid was close to the Sangh’s heart. When some swayamsevaks recently called on him, Madhav said Prabhu spoke at length about the project, calling it “wonderful”. The RSS then decided to ask him to address its convention. However, political observers believe there was more to Prabhu’s presence at Hedgewar Bhavan today than just lecturing the Sangh members on connecting rivers.

It is widely believed that Thackeray was keen on getting Prabhu dropped from the Cabinet or giving him a less weighty portfolio.

However, Prabhu managed to stay on because of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He was rated as one of the most “effective and result-oriented” ministers.

Apparently, Prabhu’s rehabilitation, at the Prime Minister’s behest, was not to the Sena chief’s liking.

Sena sources maintained that Prabhu was unlikely to get a ticket for the next Lok Sabha polls despite being a successful two-term MP who had managed to win against a stalwart like Madhu Dandavate.

Prabhu seemed to have got the “message”, as Sena sources put it, because after he ceased to be a minister, one of the first things he did was to call on RSS sarsanghachalak K.S. Sudarshan. He was supposed to address the BJP’s intellectual cell on the subject of power reforms but did not because he resigned that very day. In BJP circles these moves were seen as signs of Prabhu getting close to them.

The party’s reading was that he might contest the next election as an Independent, if the Sena jettisons him, with the BJP’s support.

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