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Advani fires Atal weapon
- BJP chief replies to sanyas-seekers

New Delhi, June 15: The bugle has been sounded on round two of the ideological battle in the Sangh parivar.

With Atal Bihari Vajpayee prompting the BJP to publicly rally behind its president, L.K. Advani today defended the stand he took on Akhand Bharat in Pakistan and stressed on the importance of standing by one’s convictions.

A day after the VHP asked him to go into political sanyas, Advani invoked the sayings of a galaxy of philosophers, religious heads, radicals and mainstream politicians to buttress his observations on Greater India.

However, what could rankle the Sangh hardliners more was his use of an episode from the life of Deendayal Upadhyaya, the Jan Sangh ideologue and a beacon for the parivar. The Uttar Pradesh BJP has crafted its revival strategy around an incident in Rampur in which Upadhyaya’s statue was removed from the town square.

Advani chose a book release event ' once Vajpayee’s favourite occasion to drop politically loaded statements ' to launch his thinly-veiled riposte to his critics.

“I was asked about the concept of Akhand Bharat because there is a political debate going on. I must say that except for the first election manifesto of our party (then the Bharatiya Jan Sangh) in 1952, Akhand Bharat is mentioned nowhere.”

Advani had said in Pakistan that Partition is an “unalterable reality of history”.

He recounted a meeting between Upadhyaya and the socialist leader, Ram Manohar Lohia, in which Lohia asked the Jan Sangh ideologue to explain Akhand Bharat.

“To this, Upadhyaya said, ‘Pakistan has been formed, we are now two sovereign states. But we now dream of a time when our governments and our people will feel the need to be together and come towards forming a confederation. I dream of a time when this will happen’,” Advani said.

On his comments on Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Advani said that in February 2004, too, he had referred to the same speech of the Pakistan founder but it had gone unnoticed.

Dipping into a mythological arsenal as was the practice of Vajpayee, Advani referred to a passage on Arjun in the book that was released ' on the Bhagavad Gita ' to indicate that he would not take sanyas.

Advani said his aim was not to run away. “This sense of escapism is detrimental to any great achievement,” he said, quoting the last line of the passage: “The exhortation given by Krishna to Arjun, which is also the eternal mantra given by the Gita to anyone facing a challenge, is this: One must stand by one’s convictions.”

Advani received vocal support from his party after Vajpayee called up senior vice-president M. Venkaiah Naidu and urged him to answer the VHP’s charges and not “keep silent”.

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