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BJP bid to cow down Shinde
- Party to boycott meetings in protest against ‘saffron terror’ taint

New Delhi, Feb. 1: The BJP has decided to blackball home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde for accusing the RSS of promoting terror and fomenting violence.

This strategy was earlier used against Shinde’s predecessor P. Chidambaram.

The party’s core committee today met and decided its leaders would boycott meetings of the Opposition parties that Shinde, as leader of the Lok Sabha, is scheduled to call before the budget session begins on February 21.

Shinde and finance minister Chidambaram are expected to shortly begin all-party consultations on the budget and other bills on the government’s table.

The BJP has also decided to wave black flags before Shinde whenever he appears in public, starting tomorrow.

However, the leaders are yet to firm up their plan for Parliament. Early on in the meeting, which lasted over two hours, some members said the home minister should be “heckled” and not allowed to speak in the House. But the view that prevailed was that the BJP should “play by the ear” and clinch its strategy depending on how Shinde responds and whether he retracts his accusations or not.

It is learnt that BJP president Rajnath Singh felt “disrupting” Shinde interminably inside the House might be “counter-productive”.

The decisions have come a day after the RSS called a meeting of BJP and VHP leaders.

The VHP representatives had said clerics associated with them would pass a resolution against the UPA and the Congress at their meeting during the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad for “tarring” the Sangh “parivar” with the “terror taint”.

The resolution is scheduled to be adopted around the time when Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul are expected to be in Allahabad to take a dip in the Sangam.

The BJP core group, which includes L.K. Advani, Rajnath, Opposition leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, and Rajnath’s predecessor Nitin Gadkari, also discussed the Karnataka crisis caused by the large-scale resignations of BJP MLAs, who have since defected to B.S. Yeddyurappa’s Karnataka Janata Party.

The leaders also talked about the problems in the Rajasthan unit triggered by opposition to the appointment of Vasundhara Raje as the state BJP chief.

Rajasthan old-timers argued that Raje should get only one of two positions: either the state party president or that of the chief minister-in-waiting.

The old guard, primarily Ramdas Aggarwal and Gulab Chand Katheria, contended that since Rajasthan had conflicting caste groupings, leaders of every caste should be accommodated in important positions so that no caste felt short-changed in the run-up to the Assembly elections this year.

Central BJP sources admitted that given the “hold” Aggarwal and Katheria had over the organisation, it was “difficult” to ignore their arguments.