New Delhi, July 3: L.K. Advani has accepted the resignation of Sudheendra Kulkarni from the inner circle of the BJP.
Kulkarni, regarded as the architect of the blueprint to project the Advani-led BJP as “secular”, will no longer be the party’s national secretary, the president’s political secretary and a member of the national executive.
Kulkarni had offered to resign in an email ' which was eventually leaked ' sent to Advani from Mumbai on June 24.
When Advani neither rejected nor accepted the letter for several days, it fuelled speculation within the BJP that Kulkarni could be “sacrificed” in order to buy peace with the Sangh.
One of the key elements of Kulkarni’s blueprint was the portrayal of the BJP as a “centrist” party that would not be weighed down by the ideological baggage bequeathed by the RSS and the VHP.
The acceptance of the resignation came in the middle of an RSS conclave that is expected to discuss the future of the BJP as well as Advani.
The Surat congregation is being held away from media glare, but indications from Sangh sources suggested that Advani’s Pakistan trip and his remarks on Mohammed Ali Jinnah had “shattered” the morale of the cadre.
A large section of the BJP had blamed Kulkarni for drafting Advani’s laudatory references to Jinnah in Pakistan, which unleashed a storm back home that prompted the BJP president to resign and then rescind.
BJP sources said the party leadership felt that if Kulkarni is eased out, the Sangh might allow Advani to remain party president till his term ends in 2006.
When George Fernandes met the RSS sarsanghachalak, K.S. Sudarshan, at the Nagpur headquarters last week, the NDA convener reportedly proposed that Advani should remain president until at least the upcoming Bihar elections. Kulkarni’s possible departure was also mentioned then. But RSS sources said Sudarshan rejected the “formula” as a case of “too little, too late”.
BJP sources, however, said the party is still hopeful that the Sangh would give some reprieve to Advani. “It may soften them (the RSS) up a bit. Let us hope they will allow Advani to continue at least till December,” said a senior party leader.
The BJP is scheduled to conclude year-long celebrations of its 25th anniversary with a “grand” meeting of the national council in Mumbai.
The fallout of Kulkarni’s resignation will be known once the Sangh “indicates” its mind after the Surat conclave on July 6.
Kulkarni was summoned to the capital after his resignation offer became public knowledge, though he had maintained he had nothing to do with the leak.
On his arrival today, he met the BJP chief and announced his resignation shortly thereafter. He told journalists that the “situation” had changed after his letter of June 24 found its way into the hands of the media.
A seemingly unrepentant Kulkarni said he stood by the contents of the letter in which he urged Advani to “recast” the BJP’s links with the RSS and sever ties with the VHP. He denied he was resigning under “pressure or persuasion”.