The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani flies into Sangh diktat

New Delhi, June 6: Hours after BJP president L.K. Advani returned from Pakistan and said he welcomed a debate on his praise of Mohammed Ali Jinnah as “secular”, the RSS demanded that he withdraw the statement as well as those on the Partition and the Babri Masjid demolition.

RSS general secretary Mohan Bhagwat and other functionaries conveyed this to senior BJP leaders M. Venkaiah Naidu, Arun Jaitley, Sanjay Joshi and Bal Apte who called on them late tonight.

“Ideological questions are involved here and it is not possible for the Sangh to compromise on them,” spokesperson Ram Madhav said after the 90-minute meeting at Jhandewalan, the RSS headquarters.

During his week-long visit to Pakistan, Advani had described the Babri demolition as the “saddest day” of his life and the Partition as an “unalterable” reality. The Sangh parivar, which includes the BJP, clings to the idea of Akhand Bharat (Greater India).

The RSS-BJP meeting came after party leaders held day-long discussions among themselves and with Advani. Pramod Mahajan and Sushma Swaraj were among those involved in the talks.

On his arrival this afternoon, the BJP chief had said: “I did not issue any text (describing Jinnah as a great man and a secular leader). It was just a mention about which I have come to know that there has been some debate here and there. I have no objection to it. It is good. There should be a debate.”

Posters put up by Hindu Jagran Manch activists at the airport screamed: “Jinnah Samarthak, Pakistan Premi Advani, Vapas Jao (Jinnah supporter, Pakistan lover Advani, go back).”

Advani also came in for attack from the ruling Congress, which described him as a “political chameleon”. What the BJP leader said in Pakistan might not be his “last word” on the issues, party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said, predicting that in India, his line would change.

If he thinks Jinnah is secular, Advani must spell out his definition of secularism, Singhvi added, lobbing a string of questions at him:

At Jinnah’s behest, the subcontinent was divided into India and Pakistan on religious lines. Was this secular'

Jinnah had supported separate electorates on communal lines. Was this secular'

When Gandhi was assassinated, Jinnah described the Mahatma as a great Hindu leader. Did this reflect Jinnah’s secular credentials'

On the Babri demolition, the Congress spokesperson accused Advani of shedding crocodile tears.

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