The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rajnath at helm, A team at play

New Delhi, Jan. 2: Atal Bihari Vajpayee has spoken again. But no need to reach for the Ramayan to make sense of it this time.

As Rajnath Singh was being crowned BJP president today, the former Prime Minister made an intervention to suggest that L.K. Advani would be around to “guide” his successor who has inherited a crown of thorns.

“Rajnathji has already proved his mettle as an able administrator. I am sure the party will make substantial gains with him as the centre and Advaniji as the guide,” Vajpayee said.

The comment ' much less cryptic than the Parashuram and Lakshman parallels Vajpayee drew in Mumbai last week ' is being seen as a subtle message to the RSS that the BJP is still keen to follow an independent agenda with Advani playing a key role.

Advani had to step aside from the president’s post after a series of skirmishes that brought out the sharp divisions between the Sangh and a section of the BJP which wanted to reinvent the party.

If anyone had any doubt why the former BJP chief should be at hand to guide Rajnath, Vajpayee, who had compared Advani to Ram last week, said today: “Rajnathji has a huge responsibility. The BJP president’s post is a crown of thorns. The BJP chief’s job involves total dedication towards principles and duties.”

The unstated subtext could be that it will take a leader of Advani’s calibre to help Rajnath uphold the “principles”.

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