The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Big brother steers clear of bickering BJP

New Delhi, Sept. 23: The RSS decided to “distance” itself from the ego wrangling in the BJP following the Rae Bareli court verdict and leave it to the Prime Minister and his party to clear the uncertainty arising from Murli Manohar Joshi’s resignation.

The court absolved L.K. Advani but ordered framing of charges against Joshi and others in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

A meeting between the human resources development minister and RSS sarsanghchalak K.K. Sudarshan slated for today was called off. “Sudarshanji will not meet anybody. But if Joshiji or anybody else wishes to see him, they can always come over (to the Jhandewalan complex),” said Ram Madhav, the RSS spokesperson.

The move came after a long meeting in the Sangh’s Delhi headquarters after Sudarshan and his colleagues returned from Nagpur this morning. Madhav said Sudarshan, Mohanrao Bhagwat and Madan Das Devi discussed every aspect of the situation obtaining from Joshi’s resignation and decided that the RSS must not “interfere” in what was deemed to be an “internal BJP matter”.

BJP sources in touch with the Sangh said the “spirit” of the decision was influenced by the perception that instead of playing the big brother and helping its political progeny in difficulty, the RSS was muddying the waters.

Its first reaction — which came from Madhav — was that Joshi should not press his resignation because the Ayodhya case did not involve moral turpitude but was “political” in nature. He was echoing BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu. Four days later, Madhav issued another statement, welcoming Joshi’s decision to quit.

The confusion was reflected in the RSS’ mouthpieces. While Panchajanya stressed that the minister should be persuaded to withdraw his resignation, Organiser noted how “many political commentators have lauded Dr Joshi for upholding high moral principles in politics”.

The BJP sources attributed the divergence to a division within the RSS, with one section, comprising Sudarshan, Bhagwat and H.V. Seshadri, batting for Joshi and a lone Devi holding Advani’s banner aloft.

RSS sources close to the first camp started speculating on a post-resignation role for Joshi, preferably as the next party president after organisational polls in November.

But Devi — whose association with Naidu goes back to their days in student politics as Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarti Parishad activists — is believed to have scotched the idea, saying the RSS must not be seen to “destabilise” the BJP’s organisation.

His view seems to have prevailed, at least for the moment.

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