The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Khurana renews attack on Advani

New Delhi, Aug. 18: As the monsoon session of Parliament nears its end, Lal Krishna Advani’s problems have started afresh.

Senior BJP leader Madan Lal Khurana launched a renewed assault on his party chief, saying he was finding it “difficult” to work under Advani and would decide his future plans in consultation with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

“I can no longer work under the people around Advani who sit in air-conditioned rooms and influence his decisions,” the former Delhi chief minister told reporters. “For our entire life, we have nourished the party in an effort to strengthen it. I am hurt to see its downfall.”

Khurana, who last month sought Advani’s resignation because of his alleged deviation from the Sangh ideology and for running the BJP like a “private limited company”, complained that “mass” leaders like himself were “not only sidelined but humiliated”.

By indirectly involving the RSS in his outburst, Khurana reinforced the perception among a section of the BJP that the Sangh was again firing at Advani from the shoulders of a detractor.

For the past month, an uneasy calm had prevailed in the Sangh parivar after what seemed like an interminable battle over whether Advani should stay or go after his controversial Pakistan visit.

It was decided that a “ceasefire” would be called based on the undeclared understanding that Advani would quit as BJP president or the leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha or both at a time of his choosing.

BJP sources admitted they expected the battle to restart “in full fury” before the national executive’s scheduled meeting in Chennai in mid-September.

The meeting was to take place in July but was put off because of the RSS-BJP spat and the fear that certain members, put up by the Sangh or the “congenital loose canons”, would initiate a debate on whether Advani should carry on.

This time, the Sangh is reportedly afraid that Advani might swing a resolution in his support at the Chennai meet. “If that happens, it will be impossible for us to ask that he step down before completing his term (in 2007),” a source said.

Keen to pre-empt such a situation, it is likely to step up pressure on Advani to quit by mid-September. Khurana’s salvo is being seen as part of this strategy.

An added pinprick came from Uma Bharti, who is out on a limb since she resigned as Madhya Pradesh chief minister. Uma shot off a letter to Advani in which she stressed there should be a thorough discussion on the women’s reservation bill before the BJP formulates its stand.

She also re-stated her demand for a separate quota for women from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes.

Uma said she has been “demanding a discussion” on this subject for the last eight years. “But strangely, no discussion has taken place so far, which is totally undemocratic,” agencies quoted her as saying.

The sadhvi warned if Advani did not “consult” her, she would muster the support of BJP MPs to move amendments to the bill, which will not be tabled in this session.

A section of the BJP suspects that Uma was instigated to write the letter by K.N. Govindacharya, a former Advani loyalist and now one of his bitterest critics.

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