M A I N   N E W S

Parivar in trouble
Atal ready to make way for the young
Tribune News Service

Former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee arrives to attend the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting in New Delhi
Former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee arrives to attend the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday. — PTI photo

New Delhi, April 19
The debate over the leadership issue in the BJP was triggered yet again today with former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee endorsing the suggestion of RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan that young leaders should take over the mantle of the party.

“It is a good suggestion. I am not holding any post. I am not doing much work. Nowadays I don’t have any work,” Mr Vajpayee told newspersons after the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting here in Parliament House. He was responding to a question on Sudarshan’s remarks.

Asked whether BJP President L.K. Advani should also step down, Mr Vajpayee said “Advaniji ke bare me, Advaniji faisla karenge, aur party faisla karegi (about Mr Advani it is for him and the party to decide).”

To a question on the second line of leadership in the party, Mr Vajpayee said: “It is ready to take over any time and it is necessary for them to take charge.”

This was Mr Vajpayee’s first direct reaction to the RSS chief’s attack on him and his family in a recent interview to a television channel in which he had asked ageing leaders Mr Vajpayee and BJP President L.K. Advani to make way for the younger generation of leaders.

The statement of Mr Sudarshan created a flutter within the RSS as well as in the BJP. However, the BJP leaders completely backed the leadership of Mr Vajpayee and Mr Advani.

Asked about Mr Sudarshan’s remarks that when he (Mr Vajpayee) was the Prime Minister he did not do much on the Ayodhya issue, Mr Vajpayee said: “It is his opinion. Everybody has the right to form an opinion.”

Meanwhile, the BJP today tried to downplay Mr Vajpayee’s remarks saying “as far as the party is concerned the chapter is closed.”

On the second affidavit filed against former Defence Minister and NDA Convener George Fernandes in the Supreme Court, Mr Vajpayee, who is also the Chairperson of NDA said “they (the government) have to take it back.”

“The filing of second affidavit displayed the attitude of the government. We will oppose this in and outside Parliament,” he said.

Mr Vajpayee, always known to hit out at detractors in his own inimitable style, had first expressed his distress at a function in Pune last week, where he said: “I do not fear death, but a bad name.” In his first direct response to Mr Sudarshan’s broadside, (Mr Vajpayee today said: “People are entitled to their opinion on the functioning of the government.” But he declined to comment on the aspersions against his own family members.


Pressure mounts on Sudarshan
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 19
Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh supremo K.S. Sudarshan has come under pressure to step down, as the saffron circles are rife about his deteriorating health.

Though Mr Sudarshan is relatively junior in age to both Mr Advani and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, rigours of the RSS spartan life have affected the RSS chief’s health, a senior BJP leader said.

After Mr Sudarshan’s interview to a news channel, which was considered till then anti-RSS, an intense debate has begun over the purpose, intent and impact of the RSS chief’s exercise which has done immense damage not only to the two top BJP leaders but also to the Sangh, sources said.

The RSS, which boasts of discipline and is never tired of stressing its virtues at every step, cannot but take notice of the “gross indiscipline” that has been committed by Mr Sudarshan, a leader said, adding that “he cannot address issues through media”.

“While rank and file of the Sangh followers and leaders have to follow the norm of raising an issue within the organisational framework, the Sarsanghchalak, who is very embodiment of the Sangh essence and spirit, breaks the discipline and addresses the issue through media, an RSS pracharak said in an angry tone and asked “how can this be condoned”?

When BJP President L.K. Advani took reins of the party last year from Mr M. Venkaiah Naidu, the RSS was consulted and informed but now like a bolt from the blue, Mr Sudarshan raises a storm by suggesting that Mr Advani should step down to pave the way for a second-generation leader, a BJP leader who has been associated with the RSS said.

Mr Advani and Mr Vajpayee had started the process of handing over the party command to the second-generation leaders and Mr Naidu was made the BJP President. But the loss of power at the Centre in 2004 brought some aberration in the exercise and the former Deputy Prime Minister had to assume the charge of the party under exceptional circumstances, another BJP leader said.

Mr Sudarshan, remaining oblivious of the achievements of the BJP in the past 25 years, has chosen to attack the two leaders at a time when the party is in the midst of its silver jubilee celebrations, he said, adding that “the RSS chief has not done the right thing”.

The RSS chief never used to give media interviews but Mr Sudarshan chose to cross the self-imposed and long-held limit and gave an hour-long interview to the channel, he said.

Mr Sudarshan is being discussed within the Sangh Parivar and there are two distinct opinions over the issue.

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