The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Two birds with Khurana stone

New Delhi, Aug. 20: Lal Krishna Advani today finally cracked the whip, suspending Madan Lal Khurana from the BJP for five years for “gross indiscipline”.

Khurana, a party veteran, was stripped of responsibilities as prabhari (in-charge) of Punjab, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir and told to show cause why he should not be expelled. He has to reply within 15 days.

The BJP president, under pressure for several months from the Sangh parivar to step down, acted as there were signs of a fresh offensive from the RSS and the VHP.

Advani’s move came ahead of the three-day BJP national executive meeting in Chennai from September 16. A section of the party, citing the coming Bihar polls, had suggested that the meeting be put off again (it was deferred once in July).

The proposal was tacitly backed by the RSS, which was afraid Advani would get the gathering of 120 members to endorse a resolution in support of his leadership, sources said. This would cap any further effort to oust him.

Without engaging itself directly in the power struggle, the RSS used Khurana’s shoulders to fire at Advani.

The suspension is a signal from Advani to his other detractors ' Yashwant Sinha, dropped as spokesperson after attacking the Jinnah comments, Babulal Marandi, Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh ' who have been making noises against the leadership.

Party spokesperson Sushma Swaraj said “inner-party indiscipline” would be discussed in Chennai.

On Thursday, Khurana said he could no longer work under Advani and would decide his future plans in consultation with the RSS.

The other front the Sangh opened against the BJP president was the “oust-Modi” campaign launched by two former Gujarat chief ministers, Keshubhai Patel and Suresh Mehta. The VHP joined in.

Citing the Gujarat riots, Khurana echoed the demand for Narendra Modi’s removal as chief minister in a letter to Advani he made public today. “I request you that like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cleaned the taint on his party by removing Jagdish Tytler' BJP should also remove Narendra Modi,” the letter dated August 18 said.

By suspending Khurana, the BJP chief has killed two birds with one stone: tried to reinforce his authority vis-a-vis the Sangh and ensured Modi stays. The RSS is unlikely to react to the action against Khurana because it will not want to be seen as endorsing his view on the Gujarat riots.

Rather than project the suspension as a unilateral move and expose himself to the allegation of being “authoritarian”, Advani allowed his general secretaries to “advise” him to take action. It is believed he also spoke to A.B. Vajpayee.

Shy of stepping into his constituency Gandhinagar after his controversial Pakistan visit, Advani reached Gujarat today on a two-day tour. Not only Modi, even the dissidents who had two days ago refused to meet him in Delhi came to receive him. The VHP said it will not protest the visit.

“Khurana had been indulging in ‘indiscipline’ for quite some time and had been suspended for that,” Advani said in Ahmedabad.

In Delhi, Khurana said he was ready to face any action.

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