The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP bid to disarm parent
- Plan to lure labour and student wings

New Delhi, Sept. 3: The BJP is planning to wean away the Sangh parivar’s student and labour wings ' the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh ' and make them its own.

Founded in 1948, the BMS is the country’s largest trade union and, along with the ABVP, has served as a pool from which the BJP draws its “talent”. M. Venkaiah Naidu, Arun Jaitley, Ananth Kumar, K.N. Govindacharya and Sushil Modi are former ABVP workers while Madhya Pradesh chief minister Babulal Gaur is a BMS recruit.

No one in the BJP is willing say on record that the party is eyeing the two outfits, but a well-placed source said: “This kind of thinking has been on since the time the NDA was in power. But at that point, the RSS-BJP relations were slightly better than they are now so the idea was not followed upon. The view is under serious consideration now.”

The relations have hit rock-bottom now, with the Sangh trying hard to unseat BJP president L.K. Advani. Last week, it came up with a proposal to amend the party constitution to clip the chief’s wings.

Sources said breaking the ABVP and the BMS away from the parent organisation would be possible only if and when the BJP formally sunders its ties with the Sangh. In such a situation, the “parivar” affiliates would have to decide whether to continue with the RSS or go with the BJP.

However, an indirect “takeover” is also being considered. The BJP could create its own student and labour fronts ' unlike the other mainstream political parties, it has neither ' and draw ABVP and BMS members to them.

Sources said the BJP is not keen on appropriating other Sangh offspring ' the VHP, the Bajrang Dal, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch and the Vanvas Kalyan Parishad ' although it has also tapped them for recruits in the past. Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar are from the VHP and the Bajrang Dal.

For one, the student and labour wings are bigger than the rest in terms of membership. The ABVP is estimated to have 60,000 members and the BMS, over three lakh. Their organisational skills are also better than those of members of other outfits.

Besides, outfits like the VHP and the Bajrang Dal would be “liabilities” at a time when the BJP wishes to shed the RSS’s ideological baggage ' a Hindu-only agenda, and anti-globalisation and anti-Pakistan dogmas ' and project itself as a mainstream party committed to good governance, sources said.

The ABVP and the BMS, the party hopes, would be less “inflexible” in adapting to a “modern” political outlook. Neither is expected to be obsessed with the Ram temple or religious conversions, sources said. They also hoped the two outfits would have an “open” mind on economic reforms and labour reforms.

When the NDA was in power, sources said, an important reason the BJP-led government found it easy to do business with the RSS was because the point man was Madan Das Devi, a former ABVP activist who could be pragmatic when necessary.

But the RSS will not take kindly to the BJP’s plans. Asked to react, a Sangh source said: “Each of our organisations is independent of the other but there is an ideological bonding. The RSS is the mother and there is no question of the mother allowing any of her offspring to be subordinated to the political wing.”

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