The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Parivar at war tests Advani

New Delhi, Nov. 5: The Sangh parivar came under siege from within today with pressure mounting on L.K. Advani to act against a rebellious Uma Bharti and a restive VHP boycotting an RSS enclave for the first time.

Citing Advani's presence and his reluctance to get the Ayodhya agenda back on board, top VHP leaders stayed away from the RSS national executive in Hardwar.

The VHP's Ashok Singhal, Praveen Togadia and Giriraj Kishore did not show up though they were in Hardwar performing a ceremony for Hindutva's resurgence.

Advani said he was unaware why the VHP's representatives stayed away. RSS spokesman Ram Madhav said: 'These are all family matters. They will be sorted out.'

Before the family feud spilled out in the open in Hardwar, another gauntlet aimed at Advani was thrown down in Delhi.

A few hours after the BJP sought to buy peace with Uma by making her a general secretary yesterday, the sanyasin stunned the party by calling a senior colleague names during television interviews.

She spoke of a 'satta ka dalal' (power broker) in the BJP without naming him. But when reporters asked if she referred to fellow general secretary Pramod Mahajan, she just smiled.

A section of the BJP saw in her swipe a 'bigger game plan' that envisaged a larger role for the RSS in the weakened BJP and decided to strike back.

BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, a confidant of former party president M. Venkaiah Naidu, suggested that disciplinary action must be taken against Uma. 'Any public criticism of a colleague by any leader is not in the spirit of discipline that Advani has emphasised,' he said.

Sources said Naqvi, who ceased to be a spokesperson, could not have made the comment without a go-ahead from the top leadership. In public, however, Advani underplayed the episode, saying: 'I will ask her what she actually said.'

BJP sources said they are 'convinced' that Uma had been egged on by 'powerful' backers in the RSS, VHP and the Swadeshi Jagran Manch. They expressed the fear that if the 'overarching influence' of the three was not curbed by Advani, there would be a 'revolt'.

The sources said Uma accepted the general secretary's post only after her demands relating to Madhya Pradesh were met. One of the terms 'making her nominee the Indore mayor ' prompted the resignation of Sumitra Mahajan as MP. But she sent the letter to Advani, not the Speaker.

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