|Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh at Dussehra celebrations in Delhi on Friday. (PTI)
New Delhi, Oct. 22: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh matters to the BJP. If there were any doubts on this count, Lal Krishna Advani and Varun Gandhi set them at rest today.
The newly-anointed BJP chief and the party's GeNext 'acquisition' from the Nehru-Gandhi family sat cheek by jowl at the RSS' Vijayadashami celebrations in Nagpur.
Varun's presence did not deter RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan from taking a potshot at Sonia Gandhi. He said: 'I appeal to the Prime Minister to see that whenever foreign capital is invested in our country, the right to take the final decision always remains with Indians and not with any foreigner.'
For the rest, Sudarshan trained his guns on 'Marxputras' (offspring of Marx) and 'Macaulayputras' (a reference to the English-speaking class). 'By chance, they are in a position today to do back-seat driving in the government and, therefore, are engaged in conspiring to harm the Hindu forces. Because of their negative thinking, the Marxputras can only be destructive, never can they do anything constructive.
'Otherwise they should have transformed West Bengal where they have enjoyed uninterrupted power for the last 27 years, a Marxist paradise. But what is the situation today' Sudarshan asked.
In Calcutta, CPM's Bengal secretary and politburo member, Anil Biswas, reacted sharply. 'Not a single person from Bengal will believe what Sudarshan has said against our government,' he said.
By attending the annual Nagpur show, Varun passed the BJP's ultimate loyalty test and scotched speculation that he could cross over to the Congress. The only rite of passage he did not observe was to raise his hand to his chest when the Sangh anthem was played. 'We have to work with nationalist forces,' Varun said, asked about his presence.
Advani did not wear the khaki shorts and black cap, sticking to his 'dhoti-kurta'. But he did everything else, including sounding the clap for the mahurat shot of a film on RSS founder K.B. Hedgewar. He spoke of how 'blessed' he was to be at the 'hallowed' spot on the RSS' founding day.
Sudarshan also used the opportunity to caution the BJP against 'minority appeasement'.
Advani's presence on the occasion ' the first by a BJP leader in years ' signalled that he was ready to make amends with the RSS and reassure the cadre that under him, the party would keep in mind the sentiments of its core Hindutva constituency. Such symbolic gestures could up to a point help the BJP resist pressure from Sangh hawks to revive their pet themes.