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RSS support for Anna

New Delhi, Aug. 20: The RSS today came out in support of Anna Hazare’s protest against the Centre over the Lokpal bill.

An official statement, based on a news conference addressed by Sangh general secretary Suresh “Bhaiyya” Joshi, said: “The RSS, in a resolution it had passed at its national delegates’ convention in March 2011, said clearly that it will support the campaigns against corruption. Accordingly, our swayamsevaks have participated constructively in all these andolans.”

Joshi, who held the news conference this afternoon, mentioned Hazare and yoga practitioner Ramdev and said there should be “greater co-ordination” among different protests. “It is important for all of us to work together,” the RSS functionary said.

When Hazare launched his earlier protest at Jantar Mantar on April 5, the RSS had sent its spokesperson, Ram Madhav, to meet him. But Hazare, uncomfortable that the Sangh’s involvement may interfere in the secular nature of his protest, distanced himself.

On August 17, the Sangh convened a weeklong co-ordination-cum-brainstorming session of its affiliates at Ujjain to take stock of the Hazare agitation. Although, such a meeting was called after five years, the Sangh officially said it was a “pre-scheduled, routine meeting”.

Sangh and BJP sources said the session acquired significance because of Hazare’s protest as well as the perception that the BJP could recoup after setbacks now that scams and inflation were bothering the Centre. The RSS has invited top BJP leaders Nitin Gadkari, L.K. Advani, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh and M. Venkaiah Naidu to the session.

Sources said the Sangh’s directive to the BJP was that it should be wary of the Centre’s “design” to set the political class up against Hazare and his flock by “misrepresenting” the campaign as a “Parliament versus civil society” face-off.

The sources said the Congress and the government had failed to assess the “popular mood” that had turned against them because of the scams and inflation. The RSS also asked the BJP to read the popular pulse and not become party to the Centre’s attempts to paint Hazare’s Ramlila Maidan protest as “insurrectionist and anti-political”.

It counselled the BJP not to engage in joint campaigns with the Opposition, or even the NDA for the moment, and strive for a separate identity as the political spearhead against combating graft.

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