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Sangh indiscipline rap on twins

New Delhi, July 9: Breaking its silence on relations with the BJP after the Surat conclave, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has issued a statement that was interpreted as a “warning” to both L.K. Advani and Vishwa Hindu Parishad general secretary Praveen Togadia.

The terse statement, issued by Sangh spokesman Ram Madhav, referred to the just-concluded meeting of provincial whole-timers. It said the pranth pracharaks who “assembled at Surat expressed serious concerns over the ideological erosion, behavioural misdemeanour and violation of organisational discipline with impunity by some functionaries of a couple of like-minded organisations”.

The Sangh, Madhav added, has taken “serious note” of this and its “elders” will soon talk to the people “concerned” and convey its reservations.

The statement also sought to scotch speculation that the RSS will ask Advani to quit as BJP president before the party’s national executive meets in Chennai on July 21, 22 and 23 because of the clamour for his head in Surat. “Several imaginary stories have appeared in the media about the proceedings in Surat,” it said.

That the RSS chose to express its views in a statement and not through a news conference indicates that it does not wish to get overtly involved in the “internal” power dynamics of either the BJP or the VHP.

Earlier, Madhav had told journalists that a news conference would be held in the capital on July 6 after the Surat meeting concluded. This was put off to July 7 but the night before, journalists were informed by Madhav’s secretary that he had to rush to Nagpur for a Sangh meeting on the Ayodhya attack. So, the second scheduled news conference was cancelled. After that, there was no word though a section of the press continued to speculate on how Advani could be affected by the Surat meet.

Sangh sources identified the people “concerned” as Advani and Togadia and said that while the first was “guilty” of “ideological erosion”, the feisty VHP functionary was often too “frank and free” in his remarks on BJP leaders, including Advani, and should be more restrained. “Advani violated the vichaar (ideology) aspect of the Sangh and Togadia, the vyavahar (behaviour) part of it,” a source said.

While the RSS formally sought retraction of Advani’s recent remarks in Pakistan praising its founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Togadia had labelled him a traitor.

The RSS was also upset by Advani’s declaration that December 6, 1992 ' the day the Babri mosque was demolished ' was the “saddest” day of his life. Sangh leaders also did not approve of his statement suggesting that the concept of “akhand Bharat” (greater India) was no longer relevant.

The RSS sources claimed it was not in the Sangh’s “tradition and culture” to name individuals in meetings and statements. “Our messages are conveyed through insinuations and suggestions and it is up to the subjects to take them or reject them,” the source said.

It is believed that after this statement, the RSS is unlikely to pressure the BJP to ease Advani out because, as the sources pointed out, there is no clear “mechanism” to effect a mid-course change. “At best, we hope that he will get the hint and rethink his continuance,” the source added.

Some BJP leaders, however, are likely to impress on the RSS that the party chief had made “enough amends” by visiting Ayodhya, iterating his “commitment” to the temple construction and meeting VHP chief Ashok Singhal, who has attacked him in the recent past.

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