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Sushma out of LK shadow

New Delhi, Feb. 18: Sushma Swaraj has come out of mentor L.K. Advani’s shadow as Lok Sabha Opposition leader, if only at the fag end of this House’s term, in backing Telangana.

The BJP was agog with loud whispers of how for once, Sushma and her mentor weren’t quite on the same page on the Telangana bill.

Advani, the chairman of the BJP parliamentary party and working chairman of the NDA, insisted till the end that he was against passing the legislation in a din because it was “too monumental” to go through without a discussion and amendments.

Advani articulated his objections in a meeting he, Sushma, Arun Jaitley — the Opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha — held with Union ministers Sushil Kumar Shinde and Jairam Ramesh.

But BJP sources said in internal confabulations, Advani was “overruled” and reminded of the party’s commitment to Telangana.

Advani, the sources said, was told that the promise went a long way back and was enshrined in various resolutions and public speeches of party leaders, including the ones he had made in Andhra during his 1997 Swarna Jayanti Yatra.

The party could not therefore dilute, defer and recant its stand now, the sources quoted the other leaders as telling the veteran. The sources said Sushma vociferously put across this point and that was the reason Advani eventually went along with the rest.

A source said: “Please go through the recent statements made by the BJP’s four key decision-makers, Rajnath Singh, Narendra Modi, Sushma and Jaitley, and point out one instance where any of them said they will not allow the statehood bill to go through amid cacophony. None of them did.”

The source added that the quartet’s “only view was that Seemandhra should get justice and its concerns should be properly taken care of. They all felt that there was no contradiction between the creation of Telangana and justice for Seemandhra. Let Telangana come into being under the UPA. Let Seemandhra get justice under a BJP government.”

The BJP’s feedback was that Advani was “unduly influenced” by the party’s Seemandhra representatives, who in the ultimate analysis “do not count for much” because the BJP has not had much clout in the region, according to the sources.

Sushma reaffirmed the BJP’s pledge in her speech today in the Lok Sabha. She made it a point to declare that her views were shared by senior colleagues Advani and Rajnath, the party president.

Sushma went on to mention that if “Sonia Amma” was being thanked for navigating the Congress resolution on the new state, she deserved equal credit as “Chinamma (mother junior)” for carrying the BJP along.

Sources said the directive from the RSS was clear: the Sangh favoured the creation of small states and, therefore, Telangana must be supported without ifs and buts.