The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sangh sacrifice sermon to Advani

New Delhi, July 14: When the BJP’s media cell sent an SMS to reporters, “alerting” them that its Big Two ' Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani ' would attend a condolence meeting for Sunder Singh Bhandari this evening, it appeared as if their presence would eclipse the occasion. But the RSS played spoilsport and grabbed the limelight.

The relatively low-key Indresh, who is the sahasampark pramukh (joint chief co-ordinator) of the pranth pracharaks (provincial organisers), made it clear that the Sangh would use every forum, solemn or otherwise, to nettle the BJP president and his acolytes.

Indresh, seated in the company of Vajpayee, Advani, Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and party veteran J.P. Mathur, said his mandate, from Jhandewalan ' the RSS headquarters in the capital ' was “to go and speak”. And speak he did, leaving Advani blanched at the end of it.

Addressing the condolence meet at the Constitution Club at 5 pm, Indresh said a Sangh pracharak (Advani subsequently described himself as one) could be judged by three credentials: survival of the fittest (vis-a-vis its ideology and disciplinary regimen), live and let live and live but for others.

Bhandari, he said, was the quintessential pracharak because he embodied “a sense of service, sacrifice, simplicity and discipline”.

Singling out “sacrifice” as the “highest form of human action”, Indresh said: “Sacrifice is the best way to resolve crises and problems. Our seniors like Bhandari proved this in their lifetime. The Jan Sangh was founded on various principles and ideals but sacrifice is the central one. When a man sacrifices something dear to him, he becomes a hero, when he compromises, he is in trouble.”

Pointing out that he was younger than most of the leaders present, Indresh said: “I played on their laps.”

He added that he had been tasked to deliver the message that “trust and belief” could resolve any crisis.

The RSS leader said the country’s “self-respect” was another governing principle of the Sangh’s ideology.

Vajpayee and Advani were left with little to say after this sermon from the mount.

The BJP president harked back to the 1952 Assembly elections in Rajasthan, which he oversaw with Bhandari, and recalled how tough it was for its elected MLAs to later support a law abolishing the privy purse. Barring Shekhawat and another MLA, everyone from the Jan Sangh had voted against it, he said.

The former Prime Minister indulged in another bout of nostalgia, speaking about the “meaningful contributions” Bhandari had made in his three terms as Rajya Sabha MP.

Shekhawat alone referred, albiet tangentially, to present-day problems with an analogy that likened Bhandari to a needle.

“He always carried a needle and thread with him. Later, I saw the meaning. Any person who worked with Bhandari was like a thread, which had to pass through the fine eye of a needle. He left us in our hour of crisis,” he said.

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