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Since 1st March, 1999
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Sangh puts BJP under watch
Ayodhya tops wish list

New Delhi, Nov. 6: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh put the BJP on notice after extracting an assurance at its national executive that the party would return to the Hindutva ideology.

BJP chief L.K. Advani and his predecessor M. Venkaiah Naidu attended the meeting in Hardwar that concluded today.

Sangh general secretary Mohan Bhagwat said they would 'wait and watch' to assess how the BJP honoured its 'promise'. However, he did not specify a timeframe. 'The Sangh does not direct anyone. The reforms have to come from within. The BJP says it will return to Hindutva. Let us see how they fulfil it,' he said.

The Sangh had told the BJP it will have to take a stand on Hindutva and 'play a role' in the construction of the Ram temple 'through the will of the people', the RSS leader said. 'It is for them to decide now.'

The RSS wish list, conveyed to Advani and Naidu, had two major expectations, sources said. One is a resolution on Hindutva ' with the Ayodhya temple as the focal point ' to be passed at the BJP's national executive in Ranchi from November 24 to 26. The other is a reconstitution of Advani's team of office-bearers to weed out the 'unsavoury' members within three months.

General secretaries Pramod Mahajan and Ananth Kumar were high on the Sangh hit list and pressure was building on Advani to drop them.

The Sangh is also reportedly unhappy with the inclusion of 'personal' nominees of BJP leaders in the new national executive and the exclusion of some veterans. The names bandied around were those of Hema Malini, Vijaya Shanti and Smriti Irani. 'How can these stars be of use in a high policy-making body' asked a former office-bearer.

The Sangh also suggested that former BJP ideologue K.N. Govindacharya ' out in the cold since Atal Bihari Vajpayee had him sacked ' should be reinstated. 'What Advani needs direly is someone like Govindacharya,' a Sangh source said.

Govindacharya himself is reportedly against returning to his political alma mater and has told his confidants that he 'narrowly escaped' being made a 'baigan ka bharta'. Besides, resistance is already mounting among the BJP's GeNext against Govindacharya's prospective induction with some of them recalling how he stole the thunder from Mahajan, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley when he was general secretary.

The Sangh also restrained the VHP from floating its proposed umbrella alliance of Hindutva-minded parties by buying time with the BJP. 'Let the wait-and-watch period be over, then we will see,' Bhagwat said when asked if the Sangh supported the idea.

If the Sangh had initially intended to go along with the BJP and keep the Ram temple out of its executive agenda, the adverse notice provoked by the VHPs unprecedented boycott forced it to climb down a notch or two. Today, the Sangh's endeavour was to mollify its militant wing.

The BJP refused to comment. 'Every party is free to have its own ideology. As the NDA, we ran a government on the basis of a commonly accepted programme,' Naidu said.

Sumitra meeting

Sumitra Mahajan, the Indore MP who sent her resignation to Advani two days ago, met the party president on Saturday.

She said she had conveyed her grievances and it was for the party leadership to decide. Advani is understood to have persuaded her not to press her resignation.

Sumitra earlier met Sushma Swaraj ' in the absence of Arun Jaitley, who is in charge of Madhya Pradesh ' and said Uma Bharti's elevation as general secretary was not so much the source of her grouse as the nomination of Uma Shashi Sharma and Bhagwan Das Sabnani for the posts of Indore and Bhopal mayors in the coming local bodies' polls.

Jaitley is tipped to head the co-ordination committee between the government and the party in Madhya Pradesh that will also include Uma, chief minister Babulal Gaur and state BJP president Kailash Joshi.

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