The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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RSS pen pricks Advani

New Delhi, June 13: L.K. Advani might be keen to bury the Jinnah controversy, but the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh won’t let him forget it in a hurry.

Three days after Advani recalled his resignation as BJP president ' after endorsing his party’s and, by extension, the RSS’s views on Mohammed Ali Jinnah ' the Sangh launched a scathing attack on the leader in its English and Hindi mouthpieces, Organiser and Panchajanya. While Organiser desisted from naming him, Advani had no such luck with Panchajanya.

To add to his troubles, no defence came from the BJP.

The Organiser article titled “Don’t give Jinnah a second chance” has been penned by its editor, R. Balashankar, who is supposed to be close to Advani’s strongest critic in the BJP, Murli Manohar Joshi.

“It was not the Sangh that portrayed Jinnah as the khalnayak (villain) of Indian politics. Jinnah is a topic on which there is a rare national consensus cutting across the political divide. To say that Jinnah is secular is like saying that Ravana is a symbol of goodness. Every nation has its icons and every nation loves to hate some hate figures,” Balashankar writes.

The BJP also falls in the firing line. Questioning the very objective of Advani’s Pakistan trip, Organiser notes that it was not the party’s job to give “political cover to Manmohan Singh’s political mission”.

The author questions the manner in which the NDA gave “legitimacy” to the BJP president’s views on Jinnah. “The resurrection of Jinnah in contemporary Indian political discourse is a dangerous development, reminiscent of pre-Partition days. Competitive minorityism seems to be the main plank of both UPA and NDA. The latter may not make any gains, but for the BJP, it is a situation of the tail wagging the head with smaller parties in unabashed disdain, promoting the Jinnah debate,” Balashankar says.

Panchajanya editor Tarun Vijay, whose article is titled “Touba!”, says: “After all, Advani was not invited by the Pakistan government for personal reasons. He is an honest, tough and strong Hindu nationalist leader who Pakistan wished to befriend, and therefore, he was invited. This means that behind the invitation was the perception that Advani held certain views and the party workers had a big role to play in building his image. But only he can say if he has done justice to them.”

Vijay, believed to be close to the BJP chief, reminds Advani that if he wanted to be a “true friend” of Pakistan, there was no need to compromise on basic issues. “Whoever bends down to make a friend will not even get the respect an enemy deserves.”

He compares Advani’s visit to Jinnah’s tomb to Pervez Musharraf paying tribute at Mahatma Gandhi’s samadhi in Raj Ghat. “Not for a second did he show he was weak on his commitment to certain basic issues.”

The BJP did not react to the articles. The only response came in jest. “This is glasnost, perestroika and it is very good because it shows that organisations which were supposed to be concealed by an iron curtain are actually open,” a spokesperson said.

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