M A I N   N E W S

BJP balances RSS, NDA visions in poll manifesto
Satish Misra and S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 5
The BJP today did a tightrope walk by agreeing to include contentious issues, including Ram temple, to please the RSS in its “Vision Document” on the one hand and decided to keep them out of the NDA’s common minimum programme to keep alliance partners in good humour on the other hand.

In an attempt to make the best of the both the worlds, a strategy was evolved during a 90-minute meeting between BJP and RSS leaders trying to seek votes both from the “fundamentalist Hindu” constituency as well as the “secular” camp.

The meeting, held at Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s residence, took place a week ahead of the crucial three-day RSS meeting of the Akhil Bhartiya Pratinidhi Sabha at Jaipur where its cadres would be exhorted to work relentlessly to ensure the victory of the BJP candidates in the Lok Sabha election. BJP President M. Venkaiah Naidu and party general secretary Sanjay Joshi are likely to participate in the meeting.

The BJP leaders explained the RSS leadership’s compulsions of alliance politics which binds the government hands to take up issues which have been the cornerstone of the party.

Speaking after a high-level meeting, RSS leader Madan Das Devi, who coordinates between two the organisations, said the BJP had agreed to include the issues of Ram temple, Uniform Civil Code, scrapping of Article 370 and a ban on cow slaughter, in its election manifesto (Vision Document) being prepared by a team of top BJP leaders led by Union Law Minister Arun Jaitley.

“We have met Mr Jaitley and conveyed our views to him and we would be having another round of talks on the matter,” he told newspersons.

Mr Venkaiah Naidu, however, said these issues would not be on the NDA agenda.

Reflecting the RSS sentiment that BJP-led government should return to power at the Centre, Mr Devi said, “Our cadres would campaign for the party in their individual capacity and they would mobilise support for the BJP and work in close coordination with the party.”

Mr Naidu said, “All swayamsevaks have supported nationalist forces in the past elections and they would do the same in the coming elections and help the BJP.”

The meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani, Mr Naidu and Mr Sanjay Joshi. The RSS was represented by Mr Devi, Mr Mohan Bhagwat, Mr H. Y. Seshadri and Mr Bhaiji Joshi.

Mr Devi and Mr Naidu hoped that the VHP which has been critical of the BJP-led NDA government on the Ram temple issue, would also support the party in the coming elections.

Asked about the criticism by the VHP on the “feel good factor,” since the temple agenda was “incomplete”, Mr Naidu said, “It is natural for the VHP to feel so as it is their main agenda. The construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya is also on the party’s agenda but it is difficult to build the temple as it is not on the NDA agenda.”

He said talks were on to resolve the temple issue peacefully and “we hope that it would be done so through dialogue.”

Mr Devi said there was an atmosphere of harmony in the country as reflected in the Muslim leaders’ appeal not to slaughter cows on the occasion of Id.

“The sangh is also engaged in the exercise of bringing about goodwill among different communities and trying to end misgivings,” he added.

He said there was no anti-incumbency factor in the country and the RSS cadres would face no problems in convincing the voters about the achievements of the Vajpayee government.

Mr Devi welcomed the government’s efforts to improve Indo-Pak relations through talks and said dialogue between Hindus and Muslims would bring communal harmony in the country.

Asked about the RSS response to Mr Advani’s Bharat uday yatra, he said, “We are yet to get the details and it was an exercise to establish direct contact with the masses besides generating enthusiasm among the voters.”

He said the BJP would also include in the Vision Document, the sangh’s views on swadeshi, labour, social and economic issues.


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