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Big brother has bully as an equal

New Delhi, July 5: In the end, Ashok Singhal had his way and the BJP was left looking for virtues in the RSS’ Ayodhya resolution to prove its views had not been negated.

But the fact that the RSS endorsed the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s main demands indicated it had done a fine balancing act to keep its two most-pampered progenies happy.

The militant VHP had the satisfaction of securing the RSS’ endorsement for two of its demands — non-negotiability of Kashi and Mathura and a central law in case the Muslim personal law board rejects the Kanchi Sankaracharya’s proposals.

Psychologically, it had the added pleasure of watching its working president run down Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee publicly twice and demand his resignation.

Although the RSS spokesman said Singhal’s views were “personal”, the BJP said it was worried about his constant harangue against Vajpayee.

There was a growing feeling Singhal would not have gone on and on had the RSS not backed him tacitly. This was reinforced by the periodic acrimony not just between Vajpayee and VHP leaders but between him and RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan also.

If Ayodhya was the provocation in the first case, Sudarshan’s ire was aroused by the government’s liberal economic policies. But the target in both cases was Vajpayee.

Singhal also played on the leadership controversy by pitting Vajpayee against L.K. Advani. This surprised the BJP because, sources said, the Ayodhya endeavour was the combined effort of Vajpayee and Advani.

Singhal’s comments have convinced a section of the party that they were “highly personalised” and were made more out of pique with Vajpayee than his efforts on Ayodhya.

Sangh sources said they had no choice but to go along with the VHP because of their support for Kashi and Mathura from the start. Besides, Singhal’s “larger-than-life” personality made it tough for anyone to rein him in.

In the “good old days”, a disapproving look or a word from a sarsanghachalak like M.S. Golwalkar or Balasaheb Deoras was enough to put the fear of god in others. But from the time of Rajendra Singh, things changed.

The coming of Sudarshan tilted the balance completely in favour of seniors like Vajpayee, Advani and Singhal. For an organisation that sets store by age and experience, it implied that the sarsanghachalak was no longer god. Singhal’s unbridled outbursts against parivar members were seen in this context.

Against this backdrop, the efforts of Uma Bharti — who met Singhal with a plea to tone down — or M. Venkaiah Naidu — urging Sudarshan to do something about the VHP — were seen as “useless”. The VHP, which apart from the BJP, was the fastest growing outfit in numerical and geographical terms, post-Ayodhya, had come of age. And the RSS was increasingly perceived as the “geriatric” family head caught in a time warp.

In the coming months, observers believe it is the “tussle” between the “equals” — the BJP and the VHP rather than the BJP and the RSS — which has to be watched.

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