The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP two make up to fight bigger battle

New Delhi, Sept. 12: The crisis in the BJP ended according to the script written yesterday as Madan Lal Khurana apologised, Lal Krishna Advani rescinded his expulsion and Atal Bihari Vajpayee smacked his lips before resuming the wait to collect Narendra Modi’s scalp.

Khurana apologised to BJP president Advani in a letter for the statements he had made against him, leading to the expulsion and the unprecedented open show of its condemnation by Vajpayee.

Within hours of the letter reaching Advani, Khurana’s expulsion was revoked and his primary membership restored.

At the end of the drama involving the BJP’s Big Two, Vajpayee showed he still had the authority to call the shots in the party by virtue of his stature and strategic position where Advani has to depend on his support.

If Vajpayee had not criticised the expulsion, Khurana would have been consigned to the rubbish bin forever.

Khurana’s letter was penned this afternoon and vetted by general secretary Pramod Mahajan before it was handed over to Advani. He admitted that he had publicly uttered statements he should not have because they had “caused immense damage to the party and inflicted mental hurt on you (Advani)”.

Expressing regret, Khurana said he would recant and requested Advani to give him a chance to “serve the nation through the party”.

The BJP chief convened a meeting of his general secretaries and vice-presidents ' M. Venkaiah Naidu and Bal Apte. Jaswant Singh and Sushma Swaraj were also invited.

Mahajan said Khurana’s letter was discussed and the “consensus” was that he should be asked to return. The general secretary (organisation), Sanjay Joshi, drafted a letter on Advani’s behalf informing Khurana that his expulsion had been rescinded.

Asked what caused the change ' Vajpayee’s statement or Khurana’s apology 'Mahajan said: “Vajpayee is our tallest leader and we honour every wish of his.”

He added that the former Prime Minister had an “impact” on every policy and decision taken by the party.

It was the denial of this influence, rather than admiration for Khurana, in Advani’s decision to order expulsion without taking Vajpayee’s consent that provoked the crisis.

Trouble in the BJP is by no means over, though, as Vajpayee might still insist on getting rid of Modi. Some observers believe Vajpayee’s letter opposing Khurana’s expulsion was also prompted by Advani’s reluctance to act against Modi.

Jaswant Singh in the main and Mahajan and Rajnath Singh acted as mediators in resolving the crisis. Sources said Jaswant was the key emissary because of his proximity to his political guru, Vajpayee, and acceptability to Advani.

The BJP chief may seem to be the loser in the episode, but in the bargain he gets Vajpayee’s continuing support in the bigger battle against the Sangh which wants him out.

This is the second occasion in recent times the BJP has taken disciplinary action and revoked it after an expression of regret ' earlier it was Uma Bharti. Asked if this had become a routine, Mahajan said: “I share your concern.”

The party’s national executive will now meet in Chennai as scheduled from Friday.


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