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'Rescue' man in trouble

New Delhi, Nov. 2: A writer in the latest edition of the Organiser, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's English mouthpiece, compared L.K. Advani's anointment as BJP chief with Winston Churchill's 'rescue act' in 1939 when Hitler's army was on the verge of attacking Britain.

Today, the veteran leader is himself beset with problems ' both within and outside his party.

The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court today served a notice on him on a revision petition the CBI had filed challenging the quashing of trial against Advani and seven others in the Ayodhya demolition case by the court in 2001. The petition, filed soon after the charges were dropped, was admitted for hearing today. If the plea is upheld, Advani would have to face fresh trial.

Sources close to Advani played safe. 'We will have to study the notice and see which case(s) it pertains to before formulating a response, legal or political,' said a source.

BJP spokesperson Arun Jaitley said: 'I would not like to react through the media.'

The sources said by tomorrow, a 'political' response may be in place accusing the Congress-led government of indulging in 'political vendetta' through the CBI by implicating Advani but allegedly bailing out party leader Satish Sharma.

In Lucknow, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh ' who was also an accused in the demolition case ' compared the move to revive the case with the Karnataka government's decision to press a 10-year-old charge of rioting against former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharti.

The BJP today issued a statement objecting to the Centre's move to close 15 corruption cases related to allotment of pumps when Sharma was petroleum minister and said it 'exposed the double standards' of the ruling coalition.

With the RSS breathing down the BJP's neck to bring Hindutva back on the political centrestage, Sangh sources claimed if the case against Advani and the others is pressed, the 'political gains' might be 'huge'. The Sangh's blueprint includes another yatra for the BJP chief if this happens, though BJP sources refused to float such balloons.

The flip side is that if Advani is chargesheeted, the demand for following the convention of 'one person one post' may be voiced from within the party. In that case, Advani might have to forego either the party president's post or that of the leader of Opposition.

Advani's second problem is dealing with Uma. The sadhvi met him for two hours today, mainly to convey that far from shutting herself up in the Himalayas, she is ready to offer her services to the party.

It is believed that Uma stressed that she should be made president of the BJP's Madhya Pradesh unit. The sources said Advani told Uma gently but firmly that it would not do to throw tantrums when the party is going through a crisis.

Uma is also believed to have asked for a position that would give her a say in the state's politics. But the BJP leadership seems keener on propping up the young general secretary from the state, Shivraj Singh Chauhan, as the heartland's new backward caste face.

Advani's nemesis from the past, Sunder Singh Bhandari, sprang literally out of nowhere, accusing the BJP brass of not allowing the GeNext to grow.

In an interview to a TV channel, Bhandari said the fact that a senior leader like Advani was brought back to head the party indicated the 'malaise affecting the organisation'.

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