The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Swadeshi salvo worries Atal

New Delhi, April 15: The Vajpayee regime is worked up about the attack launched yesterday by swadeshi ideologue Dattopant Thengadi that the government had its share of “Jaichands and Mir Jafars” who had betrayed the Sangh on economic policies.

Official sources said if the RSS or affiliates Swadeshi Jagran Manch and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh had sought a debate on WTO and its spinoffs — the context of Thengadi’s broadside — they could have asked the government to clarify their doubts or come up with an alternative blueprint instead of going public.

“But questioning the integrity of individuals cannot prepare the ground for a meaningful discussion. As the government is always available and willing to answer the Opposition’s questions, it can answer the RSS’ queries as well,” said sources.

Terming Thengadi’s remarks “intriguing”, sources said coming from a veteran leader, they were bound to “confuse” the rank and file, particularly when it had been decided that all contentious issues would be sorted out mutually and privately.

Official sources said it was for RSS leaders to take cognisance of Thengadi’s statements and consider whether “such abusive language can at all create the right ambience for holding a dialogue” which, they stressed, the Centre was prepared to.

The other option, the sources said, was for the BJP leadership to sort out the matter with the RSS. The Indore national executive decided that the BJP and the RSS would regularly interact at all levels — village, district, state and nation — and that party president M. Venkaiah Naidu would meet Sangh leaders Mohanrao Bhagwat and Madan Das Devi at least once every three months.

The BJP has not reacted so far to Thengadi’s outburst.

RSS spokesman Ram Madhav felt the government had over-reacted. “I have no first-hand information of whether there was a personal criticism or not. But as far as policies are concerned, all parivar organisations have the right to voice their opinion in public. The BJP criticised the Kelkar report that was commissioned by the government. The SJM has made its opposition known to certain government policies. But the RSS would like to find out in what context the remarks were made, whether it was a personal attack on the PM or a section of the bureaucracy which believes in the western model of development with which we have a problem,” he said.

RSS sources who heard Thengadi maintained he had not attacked Vajpayee. “There was nothing directed against him. If at all something negative was said, it was about Arun Shourie, so the PM should be a happy man,” they said.

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