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LK salutes ‘triple-ton’ skipper

New Delhi, June 29: Cricket fan L.K. Advani today seemed to attempt a switch-hit, comparing Narendra Modi to a batsman who, captaining in his debut match, scores a triple century.

What the BJP patriarch did not say was that he had initially refused to endorse Modi’s captaincy before grudgingly swallowing the inevitable.

His rare eulogy to his onetime protégé-turned-rival came at the last session of a two-day workshop for the party’s first-time MPs at Haryana’s Surajkund.

A media release quoted the veteran as saying there was one “important difference” between this orientation programme and the preceding ones the party had held.

“That difference is that our PM himself is a first-time MP. In Test cricket, we have heard of players who score a century or a double century on their debut,” Advani said.

“But I do not know of any batsman who becomes captain in the first Test he plays and scores a triple century…. As the PM candidate in his very first election, he has led the NDA to more than 300 seats.”

Modi was away in Chennai on his way to Sriharikota.

Suresh Soni, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s point man in the BJP, compared the election victory to Independence. Sources quoted him as saying that May 16 this year — the results day — was similar to August 16, 1947, the day after India won independence.

He stressed that the MPs, many of whom lack a Sangh background, must never forget the Sangh and its ideology.

“Ideology is our soul and under no circumstances should we get diverted from it,” said Soni, who is accused of a role in the Madhya Pradesh exam scam.

Advani advised the MPs to focus on the government’s “vision, policies, plans, decisions” and not to harp on the UPA government’s failures while speaking during the budget session.

He said they must explain to the people why the government had to take “hard economic decisions” and how these would help people eventually.

Advani latched on to Congress leader A.K. Antony’s statement about “some sections of society” having the “impression” that the Congress’s secularism was pro-minority.

“He is now saying what we in the BJP had been saying all along. We have always said that secularism should mean justice for all, appeasement of none, discrimination against none,” the veteran said.

Advani, once spurred by his then political aide Sudheendra Kulkarni to a view of secularism different from the Sangh’s, seemed to have come full circle, indicating his attempt to chart independent political and ideological paths was over.