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Since 1st March, 1999
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Mend yourself, Sangh tells BJP

New Delhi, Oct. 21: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh today rebuffed L.K. Advani’s appeal to “redefine” its relations with the BJP. Instead, it said it’s for the BJP to heed the Sangh’s advice and “do something to mend itself”.

“Even Vajpayee had rejected it (Advani’s claim that the Sangh interferes in the BJP’s functioning),” a Sangh functionary said.

Just before announcing ' at the Chennai national executive ' that he would quit as BJP president by the end of the year, Advani had said the Sangh needed to give the party functional autonomy and advised it to stop micro-managing the BJP’s affairs.

Asked for his reaction, Vajpayee had later said: “Sangh hastakshep nahin karta (the Sangh does not interfere in the BJP’s affairs).”

On the opening day of its national executive in Chitrakoot, the Sangh today unveiled the roadmap it has drawn for the BJP. Agency reports quoted its all-India chief propagandist, Adheesh Kumar, as saying the BJP has been asked to promote a new generation of leaders and bring in collective leadership and decision-making.

At the height of speculation on Advani’s fate, some BJP leaders had suggested amending the party constitution to bring in a politburo-like structure, replacing a monolithic president. The idea was to infuse a sense of consensus and not let the president and his hand-picked office-bearers call the shots.

The Sangh was sceptical at that time. It thought the idea was “inspired” by Advani to ensure the proposed politburo would be packed with his acolytes, letting him run the BJP by proxy.

With Advani’s exit imminent, the Sangh seems to have warmed to the concept. Sources said it wants to revive the Jan Sangh practice of electing presidents and office-bearers through electoral colleges in a bid to thwart the creation of coteries.

The Sangh executive passed a resolution condemning “caste politics” at a time the BJP is caught up in Bihar’s caste politics.

“Inventing caste-based new conflicts in Hindu society for the sake of political benefits has become a trend'. Treacherous elements are joining hands in this. To create vote banks, these politicians are encouraging caste-based rivalries, which result in... various caste-based clashes,” it said. The resolution urged political parties to adopt the principle of “samarasata (social harmony)”.

In Calcutta on a day’s visit, BJP vice-president Venkaiah Naidu, seen as Advani’s closest aide, sought to play down Sangh-BJP differences.

Commenting on Advani’s remark in Chennai that the Sangh holds the BJP’s “remote control”, Naidu said: “The RSS is not interfering in day-to-day affairs' what Advaniji said in Chennai was about public perception of RSS-BJP ties.”

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