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BJP in fix over Sangh protest

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By RADHIKA RAMASESHAN
  • Published 5.11.10
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New Delhi, Nov. 4: The BJP can’t make up its mind on joining an RSS dharna on November 10 to protest the arrest and alleged attempts to implicate senior Sangh members such as Indresh in blasts in 2007-08.

Asked today if it would join the demonstration, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad was silent. The Sangh’s Ram Madhav, however, said “anybody is free to join the protests as individual swayamsevaks”.

A political aide to BJP president Nitin Gadkari — who owes his position to the RSS — said the leader was himself undecided. The lack of clarity, he appeared to suggest, was uncharacteristic given the alacrity seen in the past.

“We (the BJP and the RSS) are part of the larger ideological fraternity. When the father figure (the RSS) organises something, we subsume our identity into it. We fold up the party flags,” he added.

Madan Das Devi, the all-India pracharak pramukh and an informal interface between the Sangh and the BJP, said he hadn’t heard from the BJP. “It’s up to the BJP. I am still awaiting word from their leaders.”

A BJP source disclosed that the view so far was that the party should confine itself to issuing supportive statements without getting proactive.

“At least, the top leaders think we should not involve ourselves in such tricky situations before facts and proof are placed on the table. We’ll look foolish if the persons named in the chargesheet or the accused are eventually nailed. We have to be responsible and restrained,” said the source.

Indresh, a Sangh national executive member who is in charge of the outfit’s Rashtriya Muslim Morcha, was named in the 2007 Ajmer blast chargesheet filed by police in Congress-ruled Rajasthan last month.

The BJP’s dilemma has a deeper sub-text. An influential section, peeved with the Sangh for wanting to “marginalise” leaders like L.K. Advani and his Delhi loyalists from its decision-making processes, believes it is time the RSS got its “comeuppance”. The thinking among them is to “let it stew in its own juice”.

In 1979, similar pangs had seized the likes of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Advani when they were part of the Janata Party government and were asked by the socialists to relinquish their RSS membership if they wished to remain in the ruling establishment.

The Jan Sangh had merged with the Janata Party and had ceased to be an independent political party. Eventually, though, the erstwhile Jan Sangh pulled out under the RSS’s pressure and formed the BJP.

Things are tougher now, also because the BJP wants to keep “secular” allies like the Janata Dal (United) on its side at a time the Bihar polls are under way. “Imagine taking up the cudgels for the RSS and that too on an issue like terror, whether the charges are motivated or not. It will hurt us politically in Bihar,” a source said.

Although cagey on the dharna, the BJP’s Prasad was expansive on whether the “witch hunt” might eventually lead to a ban on the RSS. “This raag darbari (tune sung by the establishment’s courtiers) has been on for 60 years. I’ll advise the darbaris that when Nehru and Indira Gandhi proscribed the Sangh, its strength grew each time,” he said.