The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sangh shoulder and elbow room for BJP

New Delhi, Feb. 22: The RSS has thrown its full weight behind the BJP’s poll machine, unofficially easing the party’s recruitment norms and issuing a list of dos and don’ts to court a wider section of voters.

Sangh ideologues held discussions on the elections on January 16 and 17 at a special conclave in Nagpur and an annual conference scheduled for March 12, 13 and 14 at Jaipur will analyse the political situation.

Sources said parivar leaders of all hues have been told to create a “wave” similar to the one in 1977 after the Emergency, which catapulted the Janata Party to power.

The Sangh leaders believe that the feel-good factor is not visible in two “problems states” — Uttar Pradesh and Bihar —which send 120 members to Parliament. Without the BJP improving its prospects in these heartland states, a sizeable majority will be difficult and the party will be at the mercy of the allies.

The goal of winning the polls at any cost, sources said, has made the Sangh leaders acquiesce to the BJP’s recruitment of converts ranging from stars to people facing criminal charges to members of the Nehru-Gandhi family. If required, the party can be purged of undesirable elements after the polls, the sources said, describing it as a “tactical” move.

However, playing down the importance of the new recruits, RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said: “As far as the image is concerned, it is for the BJP to be bothered. Whom to induct or not is the BJP’s prerogative.”

Asked how far the Sangh will help the BJP in the polls, he said that as far as voting is concerned, the entire parivar would vote for the saffron party. “In our system we don’t do anything. The BJP has to take the initiative,” Madhav said. However, Sangh sources said they have instructed all parivar outfits to provide maximum help to the party and the government to win the polls.

The guidelines include:

Do not provoke Muslims or send any wrong message

Give maximum publicity to the arrival of Muslim and Christian leaders into the BJP fold

Sink differences within the outfits and between the parent body and the government

Discuss problems and complaints, if any, internally and don’t go public

Mobilise and use all machinery to defeat the opponents as was done after the Emergency

As part of the exercise to showcase a united parivar, leaders of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, which usually criticises the government’s economic policies, called on the Prime Minister on Saturday and complimented him for the decision to merge a part of the dearness allowance with the basic salary of government employees.

Among the new entrants to the BJP are Maneka Gandhi and son Firoze Varun. The RSS had run a campaign against Varun’s father Sanjay Gandhi during the Emergency.

The Nehru-Gandhi family members’ utility is not confined to Uttar Pradesh alone but in the entire north India. Maneka initially wanted to join the Janata Dal (United) led by George Fernandes. But she was told by the BJP’s election managers that not only she but Varun should also join if she wanted the party’s support in Pilibhit.

Dharam Pal Yadav, who faces several criminal cases, is also in the queue.

Though there are red faces in the party with a difference, BJP sources said he would not be given any important position. Yadav’s manpower, a euphemism for muscle power, however, will be of use to the party during the polls in western Uttar Pradesh, they added.

The BJP last month inducted Anwarul Haq, a leader from Bihar who had split from Laloo Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal. The BJP had earlier accused him of being an ISI agent.

‘Rethink’ on DP

The BJP said the party could have a “rethink” on D.P. Yadav to remove the “wrong perception in the minds of the people”.

In Lucknow, Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee said that “we are of the view that criminals should not be allowed to enter politics” but added that he did not want to “dwell on individual names”.

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