The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP draws line on Sangh role

New Delhi, April 19: The BJP would work out its agenda for the Lok Sabha elections “without the intervention of other organisations”, party president M. Venkaiah Naidu said today.

The reference was clearly to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its affiliates, which have in the past urged the BJP to include their demands in its poll manifesto.

Naidu was speaking at the concluding session of a four-day workshop for BJP organising secretaries of state and district units. “As a political party, let us be clear that we will define our agenda. No other organisation can intervene, no organisation has intervened or will intervene in future,” he said.

The statements that followed his categorical assertion, however, indicated the BJP, in the run-up to the polls, would have to walk the tightrope as it could not wish away the parivar — a term Naidu said he was loath to use as it was a media coinage.

He urged BJP workers not to be fazed by the Sangh’s criticism of the BJP and government policies because “based on the feedback from their supporters, they have to say these things”.

“There are strains in a joint family. But let me tell you there is no fighting or infighting, only writing,” Naidu said in a potshot at media reports.

The BJP, he clarified, would not join issue with Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh ideologue Dattopant Thengadi, who recently made uncharitable remarks about the Prime Minister and disinvestment minister Arun Shourie.

“Some people use a strong language, but that is their style,” Naidu said.

He told the gathering not to react to every Sangh statement because their commitment to nation-building could not be doubted. “The VHP is a religious organisation and the BJP is a political party. Whatever is possible, we accept (of the VHP’s demands). When we cannot, we say sorry.”

The BJP president took the opportunity to covertly welcome the Prime Minister’s offer to Pakistan of a renewed dialogue, with riders attached. “We should be ready to talk to Pakistan. The government will see if the atmosphere is conducive or not.”

Naidu ruled out a legislative solution to the Ayodhya dispute. “Regarding Ayodhya, there is only one solution and that is to accept the court verdict. We cannot legislate because we lack a majority in Parliament.”

On Value Added Tax, too, Naidu was supportive of the government stand. “It is a good law.... We should make efforts to dispel misconceptions.” The decision to implement VAT was opposed by the traders’ lobby in the BJP.

Govindacharya salvo

K.N. Govindacharya, who resigned from the BJP’s primary membership, today said there was some “erosion” in the party because of the “dynamics of power politics” and it needed a “protective gear”.

The former political secretary to L.K. Advani, when he was BJP president, said political parties had “degenerated into electoral machines and the dynamism of party politics has taken its toll”.

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