M A I N   N E W S

Crisis blows over, Advani not to step down
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 12
The uncertainty and confusion over BJP President L.K. Advani’s continuing on two posts — as party head and Leader of the Opposition — at the alleged insistence of the RSS dictated principle of one-man one-post ended today with the party backing him and maintaining that the Sangh had not told him to give up the post.

Uncertainty gripped political circles and the party cadres after media reports suggested that the RSS had asked Mr Advani to resign as BJP chief in the wake of the controversy over his description of Mohammad Ali Jinnah as secular and in keeping with the one-man one-post norm.

“There is no confusion in the Sangh Parivar or the BJP’’ on Mr Advani’s continuation,” party spokesperson Sushma Swaraj told mediapersons after a meeting of BJP general secretaries presided over by the party President.

However, she circumvented questions whether Mr Advani, who was elected party President in November, would complete his full three-year term, resulting in speculation that the two sides could have struck an understanding on the issue.

The party admitted that the RSS leaders had told Mr Advani yesterday that confusion had been created by his statements in Pakistan and “such incidents should not recur”.

Meanwhile, the RSS also put a lid on the entire controversy. “In the last couple of days, senior functionaries met and conveyed the Sangh’s views on remaining firm on ideology and maintaining restraint on oratory and public speeches. This has been conveyed to functionaries of our like-minded organisations,” RSS spokesman Ram Madhav told newspersons here.

“They (BJP) should follow the ideology”, he said.

While the point on remaining firm on ideology is apparently aimed at Mr Advani following his controversial remarks in Pakistan, the issue related to maintaining restraint on oratory and public speeches referred to the outbursts of VHP leaders, Praveen Togadia and Giriraj Kishore.

Asked whether the RSS had asked Mr Advani to step down, sources said, “whatever message had to be given has been given. Now it is for him to decide”.

“The issue is ideology not leadership or individual,” they said, adding that, “we are sailing together and cannot have separate ideology. We hope BJP will keep our concerns in mind”.

To a question whether the BJP was indulging in secular posturing with an eye on the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections, they said, “we cannot deviate from ideology even for the purpose of getting power”.

The sources, however, said there was no “eyeball to eyeball confrontation” between the two parties.

Meanwhile, top BJP leaders, who met here after yesterday’s day-long drama over RSS leaders’ parleys with Mr Advani and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee amid reports that the BJP chief’s continuance had become untenable, today decided to address the concerns raised by the Sangh Parivar, the sources said.

“Not even once was Advaniji told to step down and there is no confusion or controversy in the Parivar or the party in this regard,” Ms Swaraj said after the meeting chaired by Mr Advani.

“It is not in the RSS system to direct change of leadership (in BJP),” she added.

She said RSS leaders Mohan Bhagwat and others who met Mr Advani yesterday had quoted from the Surat conclave of RSS functionaries to stress on “ideological firmness”.

Asked why the BJP did not deny last night the reports about the RSS asking Mr Advani to step down, she said party leaders were not aware of what had transpired at the meeting of RSS leaders and Mr Advani till they met the Sangh leaders.

The sources said the RSS leaders had made it clear to Mr Advani that it was more concerned about ideology rather than individuals and he should take steps to clear confusion created by his statements.

The Sangh leaders said the BJP now had no constraints to pursue the Sangh ideological issues, contrary to the arguments given by the party when it was in power.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |