The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sangh loan to boost BJP campaign

New Delhi, Dec. 26: Having re-established its embryonic link with the BJP, the RSS is likely to go the whole hog in helping its political progeny during the Lok Sabha polls.

BJP sources said the Sangh may “loan” some of its senior members, who could be assigned states where the RSS factor is crucial and closer co-ordination is necessary.

The name of Seshadri Chari, the editor of RSS mouthpiece Organiser, is doing the rounds. Chari was the general secretary of the party’s Mumbai district unit between 1989 and 1991. But he was reportedly forced out by a “powerful” coterie seeking to dominate the Maharashtra unit, after which he returned to the parent organisation.

Chari, who is reportedly fluent in nine Indian languages, including Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada, may be put in charge of one of the southern states.

R. Balashankar, a former journalist and now an aide of human resource development minister Murli Manohar Joshi, may take over as the editor of the Organiser.

Sources said BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu and the party’s low-key general secretary (organisation), Sanjay Joshi, will meet RSS bosses every fortnight or month.

The uneasy RSS-BJP relationship, which has hit several lows during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure, was straightened out after Naidu took over.

Unlike his predecessor Jana Krishnamurthi, Naidu made it a point to consult RSS leaders on all issues concerning the party organisation. He also held regular meetings with other affiliates like the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) and the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS).

Barring the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, no discordant noises have emanated from any Sangh affiliate in the last year or so.

Sources, however, said the BJP is not too keen on the RSS’ idea. “Getting persons from the SJM or the BMS is difficult because they will need a complete reorientation. The VHP is of course out of the loop,” a source said.

Among the pre-poll plans discussed at a BJP strategy session this morning was organising a special convention for “new” voters in the 18-25 age bracket in every Lok Sabha constituency or district, depending on the logistics. The BJP is also likely to hold a meeting of its chief ministers after the Hyderabad national executive.

The strategy session also harped on the BJP’s winning streak.

The party got a further boost today when Bihar MP Sukhdev Paswan, a former member of Laloo Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, who left him along with two others to float the Simanchal Vikas Party, merged his party with the BJP in Naidu’s presence.

Addressing party workers, Naidu declared that Vajpayee’s leadership was unchallenged and launched a tirade against Congress president Sonia Gandhi. “There is no leader to match Vajpayee. (The) Congress will hesitate to give a name if they are asked who is the leader of the secular, democratic front they plan to float. Our leader is universally accepted. Their leader has a universal question mark on the name. Our leader knows India in and out. There is a question mark on the Congress leader’s experience and credibility.”

Naidu announced that the BJP would soon unveil a document comparing the 47 years of Congress rule with the NDA government’s five-year record. “We want a healthy debate in the next Lok Sabha polls. Let (the) people decide what (the) NDA’s contribution was and what the Congress’ was. We will not allow (the) Congress to run away from the debate.”

Naidu said the BJP’s poll campaign would be issue-based and its central theme would be development.

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