The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lesson learnt, Advani stops short of tell-all

New Delhi, June 11: BJP president L.K. Advani today said he has gone through “extraordinary and unexpected experiences” over the past 15 days and has “learnt a lot”.

Addressing central office-bearers and heads of various fronts at the BJP headquarters this morning, he was quoted by spokesperson Sushma Swaraj as saying: “An individual learns something all his life'. Over the last 15 days, I underwent some extraordinary and unexpected experiences from which I learnt a lot.”

Advani divided his experiences into those during the Pakistan “yatra” and those after it. “I am confident these experiences will help me shoulder my responsibilities better,” he said, a day after withdrawing his resignation as party president.

Wiser after the controversy, Advani did not list the “experiences” he was referring to and BJP circles were abuzz with speculation on what they were. But there was general agreement that Advani was “upset” that so-called loyalists had let him down and sided with the RSS.

The needle of suspicion was pointing to vice-president M. Venkaiah Naidu for trying to execute the RSS’s script, together with Bal Apte and Sanjay Joshi, sources said.

The script was that Advani would be “forced” to step down as party chief after endorsing a resolution contradicting his remarks on Mohammed Ali Jinnah. His “ego” would not allow him to recant, they calculated. Stage two blueprinted his exit as leader of the Opposition before the monsoon session of Parliament.

The reason cited would be that the leader and his party could not take divergent stands on Jinnah and become the target of Opposition attack.

The RSS is reported to have rallied the support of almost all party functionaries except Sushma Swaraj and Narendra Modi, who felt a leader of Advani’s “stature” should not be “thrown out” in such circumstances.

On Wednesday, when party general secretaries requested him to withdraw the resignation, Advani was unaware a plot was being hatched. He sought a day’s time, hoping the BJP would come around and endorse his laudatory comments on Jinnah, sources said. But a sympathiser spilled the beans and warned Advani of what was coming.

The plot was stymied when he told the BJP the following day that he would retract his resignation before the party released its resolution. The BJP had no choice but to let him stay on and project the conclusion as a “victory of the party over the individual”.

RSS rubs it in

The RSS said in its mouthpiece Organiser today that calling Jinnah secular was like saying “Ravana is a symbol of goodness”. The Jinnah controversy shows how far the BJP has travelled away from its moorings, it added.

In Rajasthan, RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan likened politics to prostitution. “We have kept ourselves away from pol-itics. Like a prostitute who keeps changing her form, politi-cs also keeps changing its app-earance,” he told RSS workers.

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