|Sudarshan: Building bridges
New Delhi, March 20: Indicating a thaw in their troubled relations, top Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leaders, including sarsanghachalak K.S. Sudarshan, today called on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at 7, Race Course Road and discussed political issues and matters of mutual interest.
According to sources, the Sangh top brass’ visit — coming in the wake of the BJP’s near rout in Himachal Pradesh — put at rest the speculation whether Vajpayee would be the saffron mascot in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls or not and indicated they had no problem if he was projected the leader.
Sources said according to the RSS leaders, there was no alternative to Vajpayee in the BJP “at this juncture”.
The meeting assumes significance in more than one way as it was Sudarshan’s first visit to Vajpayee’s official home in two years. Considered a hardliner and junior to the Prime Minister in the Sangh hierarchy, Sudarshan was not vibing with Vajpayee and his visits to 7 Race Course were infrequent, unlike those of his predecessor.
The “cordial” meeting today is also being interpreted as the parivar’s desire to humour Vajpayee as it emphasised the need for better coordination between the Centre and the RSS, as also various organisations of the parivar, in view of the crucial polls to the four heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi.
Vajpayee’s suggestion that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad cut down on its rhetoric, too, was appreciated by the RSS leaders.
While the meeting managed to considerably bridge the “communication gap” on various issues, the leaders urged Vajpayee to call a meeting between the government and the Swadeshi Jagran Manch at the earliest to iron out differences on labour and economic reforms, including disinvestment.
Though both the BJP and the RSS played down the meeting as an “informal” call to compliment Vajpayee on completing five years in office yesterday and extend traditional Holi greetings, sources said the leaders discussed cow slaughter, Ayodhya, IMDT Act, Bangladeshi infiltration and, briefly, Iraq.
At its recent pratinidhi sabha (all-India council meeting) in Nagpur, the RSS had passed resolutions on cow-slaughter ban and curbing infiltration from across the border.
The hour-long meeting was followed by a lunch hosted by the Prime Minister. For the first time, a non-pracharak, BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu, was allowed to participate in the meeting.
Among the others who attended were deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, and RSS’ general secretary Mohan Bhagwat, pracharak pramukh H.V. Seshadri, joint general secretary Madan Das Devi and executive member M.G. Vaidya.