M A I N   N E W S

Advani bows to pressure, takes back resignation
Satish Misra and S Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 10
The extended tribulation and confusion spread over four days in the Sangh Parivar ended today with Lal Krishna Advani withdrawing his resignation as party president under pressure from the BJP and his loyalists who evolved a compromise resolution paving the way out of the impasse.

Mr Advani bowed down to pressure of the party which burnt the midnight oil to prepare a way for an honourable compromise which took care of the sensitivities of the BJP president as well as of the RSS.

A one-page “please Advani” resolution, which was adopted unanimously at the party’s extended parliamentary board meeting, not only heaped praise on Mr Advani’s recent Pakistan trip but also put in black and white terms that Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who was the author of the two-nation theory, was responsible for the partition.

Once the resolution was unanimously adopted and a formal request was made by Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu to withdraw his resignation, Mr Advani expressed gratitude to party colleagues for the resolution and their appeal and withdrew his resignation.

The resolution had the approval of Mr Advani, who expressed satisfaction that the resolution took into account the achievements of his Pakistan visit.

Significantly, during the 40-minute meeting, none of the leaders, including Mr Advani’s detractor Mr Murli Manohar Joshi, sought any clarification or amendment in the resolution.

After the resolution was read out by Mr Naidu, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee termed Mr Advani’s Pakistan visit and his laying of foundation for restoration of the Katasraj Temple in Pakistan as a “significant step”.

Mr Vajpayee hoped that this visit of Mr Advani will result in further betterment of relations between the two neighbouring countries, Mr Naidu quoted him as saying.

“The BJP reiterates that whatever may have been Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan, that state he founded is theocratic and non-secular, the very idea of Hindus and Muslims being two separate nations is repugnant to it,” the resolution said.

“The BJP has always condemned the division of India on communal lines and continues to steadfastly reject the two-nation theory championed by Jinnah and endorsed by British colonialists,” it said adding “There can be no revisiting the reality that Jinnah led a communal agitation to achieve his goal of Pakistan, which devoured thousands of innocent people in its wake and dispossessed millions of their homes and livelihoods.”

Lauding the “path-breaking” visit to Pakistan by Mr L.K. Advani, the BJP resolution said “the week-long tour has brought the people of India and Pakistan closer, helped remove a mountain of misunderstandings between them and taken the momentum of better relations to a new level, in continuation of the policy of friendship initiated by successive governments led by Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee.”

“The warm and enthusiastic response Mr Advani’s visit elicited from the officials and ordinary people of Pakistan proves the correctness of the NDA’s policy of pursuing good neighbourly ties between the two countries,” it said.

Mr Naidu said the “happy ending” would have taken place yesterday itself. “We had come to a conclusion yesterday itself, but as the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Mr Jaswant Singh, had expressed his wish to be part of the meeting, we had postponed the meeting for a day,” he said.

The party took the help of party General Secretary Arun Jaitley and nominated Rajya Sabha member Chandan Mitra for drafting the five-para resolution, which was first approved by top leaders of the party in consultation with the RSS.

“During the last four days there was a crisis gripping the party after Advani’s resignation, which was unequivocally rejected. It is now over,” Ms Sushma Swaraj said.

She said Mr Advani yesterday wanted the party to make clear its stand on his visit to Pakistan.

RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav expressed happiness that curtains have fallen into the confusion created over the remarks made by Mr Advani on Jinnah. “The resolution adopted today by the BJP is clearly reflective of the party’s thinking on Jinnah,” Mr Madhav said adding the RSS is not concerned over whether Mr Advani takes back his resignation or not.

“It is their internal party issue and we have nothing to say. But we wanted that the confusion should get cleared,” he added.

Reacting to the development, VHP Vice-President Acharya Giriraj Kishore accused Mr Advani of enacting this “resignation drama” to raise his stock. Mr Kishore had yesterday hoped that a principled man like Mr Advani would not withdraw his resignation.

Meanwhile, VHP’s General Secretary Pravin Togadia maintained his aggressive posture against Mr Advani saying that the latter had not apologised for the remarks made about Jinnah and Babri Masjid in Pakistan and the issue would be discussed at a meeting of the VHP top brass next week.

Mr Togadia said Mr Advani, by not apologising for his remarks, had “insulted the country which will never forgive him. The saints of VHP will also not forgive him.”


Jaswant emerges master draftsman
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 10
The turnaround in the high-voltage drama connected with L.K. Advani’s resignation as BJP President began taking shape late last night. It required the direct intervention of former union minister Jaswant Singh from the far-away Tel Aviv. On his return here from Israel, Mr Jaswant Singh emerged as the master draftsperson of the reworked resolution which facilitated Mr Advani in withdrawing his resignation and continuing as the President of the BJP. At least for the present, the RSS which put ideologue far ahead of individuals appears to have been pacified that Mr Advani’s comments on Mohammad Ali Jinnah had been wrongly interpreted and there were no two ways that the founder of Pakistan was the architect of the two-nation theory. A firm indication that Mr Advani was withdrawing his resignation came this afternoon when his aides whispered that he would be attending the expanded BJP Parliamentary Board meeting here this evening. That put an end to the prevailing tension and uncertainty in the BJP. It also dashed the hopes of leaders like Murli Manohar Joshi from eyeing the party President’s post. Mr Joshi had openly opposed Mr Advani of having described Jinnah as a secularist which caused a furore in the RSS and the VHP. Inexplicably, the VHP kept a low profile without alluding to its full-throated criticism of Mr Advani as evidenced over the past few days.


Balancing act

For Mr Advani, his visit to Pakistan has been lauded and his observations of Jinnah put in proper perspective. It saved Mr Advani the ignominy of having to withdraw his comments on Jinnah which he had refused outright. The night was indeed a long one for working out a delicate balancing act. If Mr Advani had stuck to his guns and held firm that he be relieved of the onerous responsibility of being the BJP President, he might have also been compelled to wash his hands off as the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha. At the same time, Mr Advani found less than a handful of people supporting him in the party organisation like former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Mr Jaswant Singh and Mr Sahib Singh Verma. Barring these leaders, most of the others, including those whose names were being bandied about as possible successors of Mr Advani, kept their counsel to themselves. Clearly, they did not want to earn the wrath of the RSS or the Sangh Parivar. Strong divisions have arisen in the BJP and what this turmoil has brought to the fore is that there is hardly anyone among the generation next capable of wearing the cap of numero uno of the saffron brigade. Those who came out openly against Mr Advani for his Jinnah statement like Mr Yashwant Sinha, Mr Murli Manohar Joshi, Mr Babulal Gaur and Mr Babulal Marandi might find themselves in the doghouse in the short to medium term.

Advani stronger?

Has Mr Advani emerged stronger after the three-day stand off about his continuing as the BJP President? The answer to that is yes as well as no. There is a strong section of opinion in the BJP and Sangh Parivar that the political crisis can leave permanent scars. Nevertheless, a new chapter has opened in the conflict between ideology and practical politics. The strategist in Mr Advani will have to put on his thinking cap in removing the rough edges with the BJP’s ideological mentor — the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh. Some in the saffron brigade contend that Mr Advani’s attempt to remould himself as a moderate to attract the minorities and backward classes might not go well within the party and outside. Then, one has to contend with the RSS which has stood for ‘akhand Bharat’ (united India). So, Mr Advani’s subtle image makeover exercise in Pakistan might have to wait for a more opportune and subtle moment which does not raise the hackles of the RSS and Sangh Parivar.


Within seconds of the formal announcement this evening that Mr Advani had withdrawn his resignation as BJP President, SMSes were flying fast and furiously. One of them went like this ... “What does BJP mean? Bharatiya Jinnah Party? President: Lal Krishan Advani Karachiwale!”

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