The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Moral cop’s ‘knickers down’
RSS key weapon loses edge
- BJP glare on Sangh’s ideological high ground; shadow on Rajnath reign

Mumbai, Dec. 27: Embarrassing as it is for the BJP to explain the circumstances of Sanjay Joshi’s unceremonious departure from the party as general secretary, the sex scandal is far more damaging for the Sangh, which is his mentor.

The Sangh has dictated much of the agenda to the BJP right from the time L.K. Advani was forced to agree to quit over his remarks in Pakistan. The choice of Rajnath Singh as the party president bears the RSS’s stamp and it was largely expected that the coming years would see the Sangh taking a more direct interest in the party’s affairs.

Even the silver jubilee celebrations began on an advisory note to the BJP by senior Sangh functionary Madan Das Devi. “Ideology is above individuals. The RSS believes in that and we expect the BJP, too, to do the same,” Devi said.

But now that the scandal has caught the Sangh ' in the words of a BJP leader ' with its “knickers down”, it has lost its high moral ground vis-'-vis the BJP.

“This incident has interesting implications. Advaniji was humiliated by them and forced to resign. They also promoted their favourite for the top job in the BJP. But what would they do now' It is a sex scandal involving their direct appointee in the BJP. It is most embarrassing for them,” said a senior BJP leader.

BJP leaders have already started raising questions about the Sangh’s locus standi on ideological and moral issues. “Of the six MPs caught taking bribes on camera, four belonged to the RSS. And now we have their direct appointee in the BJP involved in sleaze. From what moral high ground can they talk down to the BJP now'” asked a BJP leader.

Although M. Venkaiah Naidu, who announced Joshi’s departure, seemed to sympathise with him, party insiders said the incident would have long-term implications for the relationship between the Sangh and the BJP.

Rajnath, largely considered an RSS favourite, may find it difficult to function with confidence in the context of the Sangh’s authority having been seriously undermined by the scandal. Rajnath’s strength was that he had the unqualified support of the RSS as opposed to the cynicism about his political and organisational abilities among the BJP’s second-rung leaders.

“It remains to be seen how he would function now that RSS authority has been vastly reduced,” said a senior leader.

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