The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sangh steps in to end ‘feud’

New Delhi, Sept. 25: Two days after deciding to remain “neutral” on the Murli Manohar Joshi resignation saga, the RSS today again tried to straighten things out in the divided BJP house.

Last night, Joshi met RSS sarsanghchalak K.S. Sudarshan and teammates H.V. Seshadri, Mohanrao Bhagwat and Madan Das Devi over dinner at the Sangh’s Jhandewalan campus here.

Today, the main protagonist of the anti-Joshi “camp”, BJP chief M. Venkaiah Naidu, met Sudarshan. He was accompanied by Devi, who had gone to the party office for a function marking Jan Sangh founder Deen Dayal Upadhyaya’s birth anniversary. But RSS spokesman Ram Madhav said both Joshi and Naidu had sought an appointment with his chief.

Sources explained the Sangh’s renewed interest in BJP affairs as “stemming from the need to set things right before the elections” and not allow the Joshi-L.K. Advani “factional feud” to get out of hand. Though Advani was not directly present in the picture, BJP sources close to him conceded his acolytes were fighting the battle on his behalf.

While iterating that a final decision on the human resources development minister’s resignation would be taken by the Prime Minister, the BJP and Joshi himself and the RSS would stay out of the process, Sangh sources emphasised that “larger issues” were involved.

“The first is that it impinges on the fate of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement. If the BJP’s idea is to distance its leaders from the issue and pursue coalition politics, then alternative strategies have to be devised by the RSS and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad,” a source said.

“The second is the party’s behaviour with its senior leaders and the question of whether it has turned its back on value-based politics.”

The first “issue” was a fallout of the Rae Bareli special court’s exoneration of deputy Prime Minister Advani in the Babri Masjid demolition case and the BJP’s purported conversion of the “event” into a celebration while reacting with “complete indifference” to the negative verdict on Joshi and other Sangh parivar leaders.

The RSS reportedly took note that not a single BJP leader of consequence visited Joshi and a party spokesman close to Naidu made “derogatory” remarks about him to the press.

According to the Sangh sources, Sudarshan advised Joshi to withdraw his resignation if his party so desired and not prolong the controversy because he reportedly believed that enough “damage” had been done, not just to the BJP’s image but also the RSS’.

Sudarshan however, clarified he would not convey any message to Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his return from the US. The RSS leaders are leaving Delhi tomorrow.

But he did hear out Joshi, who said he could not have known the BJP’s “line” if he was kept out of party strategy sessions held at Advani’s house before the verdict. Sudarshan reminded Naidu that he ought to have a mechanism to ensure collective decision-making as elections were near.

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