The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Atal vocal massage for Sangh

New Delhi, April 26: Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani stood up for the RSS in Parliament, as a Sangh core group, headed by its chief K.S. Sudarshan, started a two-day sitting here today.

Vajpayee performed his task better than Advani ' Sudarshan had said the other day they should retire ' succeeding in putting across his loyalty to the Sangh.

Advani picked up the cudgel, too, while disputing railway minister Laloo Prasad Yadav's statement on the Sabarmati Express accident and its aftermath, in which he blamed the Sangh and its oufits for engineering an attack on him in Vadodara.

But the BJP president's voice got lost in the din of Parliament and might not have reached Jhandewalan in west Delhi where the Sangh conclave with nine senior members is taking place.

'I have been associated with the RSS since childhood,' Vajpayee thundered, demanding that Laloo Prasad's remarks against the Sangh be expunged.

After Sudarshan's remarks in an interview that BJP's Big Two should step aside for younger leaders, relations between the Sangh and the party hit rock-bottom.

By supporting the statement, Vajpayee made Advani's continuation as BJP president untenable, but backtracked the day after. The Sangh chief, too, made conciliatory noises, praising Vajpayee.

Today, on a public platform ' TV cameras were recording every minute ' Vajpayee and Advani got a chance to proclaim their attachment to the Sangh.

Sangh spokesman Ram Madhav said Vajpayee had spoken the 'reality'. 'Everyone knows about Laloo Yadav's character and antics,' he added.

Advani came thrice to the Lok Sabha. But, thanks to the noise created by his own MPs, he could not get beyond saying it was 'improper' of Laloo Prasad to make a statement based on his 'political prejudices'.

BJP sources said that despite attempts made by the Advani camp to distance the party president from Sudarshan over the remarks on an 'ageing' BJP leadership, he made it a point to try and make his voice heard in Sangh's support when he got a public opportunity.

With the leadership issue getting 'hot', the sources conceded that Advani might have felt it prudent to seek the Sangh's support to complete his tenure as party president or anoint a successor of his choice.

The Sangh group, which met today, apparently discussed the fallout of Sudarshan's interview. Sources claimed that despite the wide publicity, the remarks had not affected the equation with the BJP.

No representative from the BJP or the Vishwa Hindu Parishad was invited to the session, which was attended by the so-called supporters and detractors of Sudarshan. Mohanrao Bhagwat and Suresh Soni, who have been appointed to liaise with the BJP, are in the group. So are Madan Das Devi and H.V. Seshadri, not known to be Sudarshan admirers.

The Sangh chief organised a mini 'coup' by including the former spokesman, M.G. Vaidya, who had been told to lie low after reports that one of his relatives had allegedly benefited in the petrol pump allotment scam that took place under the Vajpayee regime. Vaidya is also close to BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi. His marginalisation coincided with Advani's anointment as the deputy Prime Minister.

Sangh sources said the leadership issue could be taken up tomorrow.

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