The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Letter bomb blows up on Sangh

New Delhi, July 1: Sudheendra Kulkarni, the secretary to L.K. Advani, has lobbed another bombshell at the RSS on the eve of its Surat meet, which is expected to discuss the BJP president’s Pakistan visit and whether he should continue to lead the party.

The blast came in the form of a letter, dated June 24 and addressed to Advani. It goes hammer and tongs at the Sangh and the VHP and virtually exhorts Advani to review his party’s links with them.

Proposing a “recast” of the RSS-BJP relationship, Kulkarni says the Sangh should stop “micro-managing” the BJP’s affairs and refrain from commenting on senior leaders. “The RSS must realise that the people of India do not like to see their leaders remote-controlled by an external entity. India needs the RSS, no doubt about it. However, the RSS must focus on giving strategic guidance to the Hindu society and on creating men and women of vision and character to take up leadership positions at different levels and in diverse areas of nation-building.”

Kulkarni’s “specific” suggestion to Advani is: “Please proactively approach the RSS leaders and tell them to have Faith in You. There can be no essential difference between what you are pursuing and what an enlightened understanding of the RSS ideology mandates.”

He also recommends that the BJP “distance itself completely from extremist elements in the VHP, who have derailed the Hindu movement, brought a bad name to the BJP and weakened the larger nationalist cause”.

Kulkarni iterates that the party must make “concerted and principled efforts to reach out to Indian Muslims” at the peril of “displeasing our ‘core voters’”.

While the missive states that he is prepared to relinquish his post as secretary and continue to serve Advani as an “ordinary worker”, Kulkarni insinuates that he has been a victim of the BJP’s power politics. His offer of resignation comes with the rider ' “if that is what my senior colleagues want”.

Advani’s secretary, however, said today that the letter was “not a resignation letter. I have not resigned. I am not denying that I wrote the letter but I am not the source of getting it to the media”.

As the BJP headquarters was abuzz with speculation over who had “leaked” the letter to a television news channel ' Kulkarni, Advani or the BJP chief’s “well-wishers” ' the unanimous view was that it has caused “irreparable” damage to the party at a time leaders like George Fernandes are trying to broker truce and restore a working relationship between the BJP and RSS.

“It is a declaration of war against the RSS,” said a BJP leader. “In this battle, we are going to side with the Sangh and not the so-called reformists.”

Sources said that over the past week, Advani had started to recover “lost” ground and goodwill among a section of office-bearers.

The view gaining ground today was that Advani was wittingly or unwittingly provoking the RSS to force his exit as party chief and leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

While the BJP chief was unavailable for comment, party leader Arun Jaitley said Kulkarni has expressed “his views and not the party’s”.

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