The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Follow Jinnah spirit, says Advani

New Delhi, June 17: L.K. Advani today said his controversial comments on Mohammed Ali Jinnah were meant to remind Pakistanis of their icon’s idea of an ideal state and not to provoke a debate on Partition.

If India, Pakistan and Bangladesh follow the “spirit” of Jinnah’s August 14, 1947 speech to Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly, the peace effort would take a “spontaneous” shape, the BJP president felt.

Advani made these remarks at a book release despite the party “discreetly” conveying to him that he should avoid speaking on Jinnah and secularism at public functions.

The gag has come together with a plan that allows Advani to stay on as party president till the last quarter of 2006 instead of having his tenure cut short at the end of this year.

Advani seemed to ignore it as he recalled a discussion with the late Swami Ranganathanandaji of the Ramakrishna Mission on Jinnah’s speech.

“The spirit of the speech was that every citizen should have full freedom to follow the religion of his choice but in the eyes of the state, everyone will be equal,” Advani said.

“I was telling them (Pakistanis) that this is your founder’s views. But now the discussion here is on the Partition and not how the state should be.”

The latest remarks, with their implicit praise of Jinnah, might further anger the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which wants the BJP to force Advani to step down before the end of this year.

But party leaders, sources say, favour a “graceful exit” with a new president “elected” at the end of the organisational polls in October-November next year.

Till then, “Advani or anyone else should not talk of secularism because it will drag in Jinnah”, a BJP leader said. “As far as we are concerned, the Pakistan visit was over on June 10 (when the final resolution, at odds with Advani’s remarks on Jinnah, was passed). Nothing more will be said.”

The party has made it clear that when its national executive meets in Chennai on July 16, 17 and 18, Advani’s Pakistan visit will not be mentioned. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, however, seems unwilling to let the matter rest.

Days after Sangh chief K.S. Sudarshan ' in a barely concealed allusion to Advani ' likened politicians to prostitutes, Parishad vice-president Acharya Giriraj Kishore called the BJP president a khalnayak (villain).

Kishore accused Advani of double standards and challenged him to prove himself an “Arjun”. (Advani had earlier said that like Arjun, he wouldn’t quit the “battlefield”). Advani is no Arjun, he is more similar to the Kauravas, Kishore sneered. “Those who taste political power are Kauravas.”

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