The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani meets Atal to put seal on truce

New Delhi, Sept. 13: Three days before the BJP’s national executive meet in Chennai, Lal Krishna Advani visited Atal Bihari Vajpayee at his residence this evening, formally signalling truce.

The BJP headquarters on Ashoka Road was abuzz with speculation all morning whether Advani would “forsake his pride” and visit Vajpayee, whom he had avoided through the crisis that erupted after Madan Lal Khurana’s expulsion.

Sources felt a one-to-one interaction was necessary to restore a semblance of normality before the BJP’s three-day executive, which begins on September 16 in Chennai’s Hotel Savera. It was feared that without this, nothing substantive would have emerged from the meeting.

The other apprehension was that if the big two did not make up, it would be impossible for Advani to raise in his presidential address the issue of organisational discipline and the party’s health, which he intends to.

The sources said if he did raise these, members might have been tempted to ask: “How about enforcing discipline at the top'”

The Vajpayee-Advani conflict was presumed to have ended after Khurana expressed regret for his public utterances against the BJP chief and Advani revoked his expulsion.

There were uneasy moments this morning when Khurana called on Vajpayee for the fourth consecutive day and emerged saying he had only “expressed regrets” and not “apologised”. His statement was seen by the party as another “affront” to Advani.

However, because Khurana is not a member of the national executive, he would not be a further source of irritation.

More worrisome for the BJP were the smoke signals emanating from Gandhinagar where some BJP MLAs took on chief minister Narendra Modi in a legislature party meeting yesterday.

The sources said Advani would try and ensure that the Gujarat problem was not brought up before the executive.

“It is not as though he is unaware of the problems and wants to avoid a discussion. It is pointless to have a discussion in a gathering of 150 members,” they said.

The effort in Chennai would be to let Vajpayee and Advani speak separately or together with Modi and his rival, Keshubhai Patel, identify their grievances and see if a meeting ground could be found.

Advani still wants Modi to continue despite Vajpayee conveying to him in the past that the chief minister should be dropped. Modi has been allowed to make a power-point presentation on the interlinking of rivers in Gujarat at the executive meet.

The executive will adopt three resolutions: one on the political situation, another on the state of the economy and a third on internal security.

Drafted by Arun Jaitley, the political resolution is expected to focus largely on the Left-government “contradictions” and the fissures within the United Progressive Alliance as manifest in Bihar.

The internal security resolution, prepared by Pramod Mahajan, will have Naxalite insurgency as its theme.

There will be a discussion on the state of the organisation and the impending elections.

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