The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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RSS lines up session to kiss and make up

New Delhi, Aug. 28: The possibility of early elections has prompted the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to try to iron out differences among its sister organisations.

The Sangh will hold a chintan shivir in Mumbai from September 6 to 9, where the main agenda will be reunification of the estranged outfits.

The internal squabbling, mainly between other Sangh outfits and the BJP, had climaxed during the Jinnah row and L.K. Advani had to pay a heavy price for his comments on the founder of Pakistan.

But there is a growing realisation within the Sangh that Advani is still a leader who could be projected as candidate for Prime Minister when elections are called. Hence, a course correction is under way.

Sources said Suresh Soni, who has been assigned the task of dealing with the BJP on behalf of the RSS, might be the first casualty. Soni, who played an important role in getting Advaniís resignation in the wake of the Jinnah controversy, is close to party chief Rajnath Singh.

Soniís imminent exit does not signal trouble for Rajnath, but it indicates that the RSS is mending fences with Advani. Before Soni, Madandas Devi used to coordinate with the BJP. Soni was drafted for the job as Devi fell ill and remained mostly in Mumbai for treatment.

Soniís clout increased but he stepped on many toes in the process. Indications suggest Devi, who enjoys a good rapport with Advani and his confidants, will be back in Delhi on his old assignment.

The RSS is also worried about the impression that it was engaged in micro-level management of the BJP. The Sangh has always maintained that it does not interfere in the BJPís organisational and political affairs.

The sources said the decision to clip Soniís wings was aimed at diluting the perception that the Sangh is meddling in the affairs of the BJP.

A larger message is expected from the chintan shivir. The sources said 12 BJP leaders have been invited to the meet, where the other RSS outfits, including the VHP, will be present. Sangh leaders are expected to underscore the importance of unity among the sister organisations.

The raging feud between Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and the VHP has particularly caused concern among RSS leaders. Modi, who is facing a rebellion within the BJP, is also at the receiving end of an unbridled attack by the VHP international president, Praveen Togadia.

Leaders of the BJP as well as the RSS are aware that the situation is tricky in Gujarat and it will be difficult to save the government without a united effort.

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