The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP makes no promises to Sangh

New Delhi, May 3: The three-day RSS-BJP conclave that ended today saw a slight thaw in the relations between estranged members of the Sangh parivar but achieved little else.

The meeting was little more than a “much-needed interactive exercise”, as a Swadeshi Jagran Manch member put it. Neither the Prime Minister nor his deputy assured the Vishwa Hindu Parishad that the government would set the ball rolling on the temple front or promised the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh or the SJM that it would go easy on reforms and divestment.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani said the decision on the two oil majors — HPCL and BPCL — would be implemented as agreed upon. They said one would be open to public holdings and the other for strategic sale, despite some delegates stressing that oil should be included in the strategic sector and that profit-making PSUs should not be sold.

Finance minister Jaswant Singh and disinvestment minister Arun Shourie did not attend the meeting, though Sangh sources initially maintained that they would give a “detailed briefing”.

On the temple front, Sangh spokesman Ram Madhav indicated that the government had lobbed the ball in the VHP’s court. The Centre, he indicated, had asked the VHP to go ahead with its plan of approaching MPs across the political divide to support a central legislation enabling the government to hand over part of the “undisputed” land to the VHP-sponsored Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas to start temple construction.

Madhav stressed that there was no difference between the VHP and the government or the BJP on the Ram temple. “It has been proved over and over again that all RSS affiliates, including the BJP, have expressed their commitment to building the temple,” he said.

It was agreed at the meeting that the Sangh parivar would “cooperate” with the VHP in its proposed programmes, Madhav said, but gave the impression that the trishul dikhsa (trident distribution) programme it had embarked on could peter out. However, BJP sources said their state units were not keen on supporting VHP leader Praveen Togadia’s endeavour.

Madhav quoted Vajpayee as saying at the concluding session that the Sangh needed to work more in the “Indian mainstream”, though it had helped weld together social sections.

Vajpayee, he said, was mum on possible Indo-Pak talks, though he spoke shortly after the Pakistan Prime Minister’s formal invitation for a dialogue.

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