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Advani warns dissidents
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, September 16
The BJP President, Mr L.K. Advani, today cautioned troublemakers and dissidents within the party, saying inner party democracy could not be allowed to degenerate into a free-for-all and recent cases of indiscipline have severely affected the party’s support base.

In his presidential address this afternoon here on the first day of the three-day national executive meeting of the BJP, Mr Advani deliberated on various issues, including a “weak” Prime Minister, “sinister designs” of the Left, foreign policy in drift, Congress divide and rule policy, national security in jeopardy, approach to Pakistan, “Aam aadmi suffers, khaas aadmi profits” and “hypocrisy” of the Left.

But his clear-cut message to dissidents was under the headline “Clear mind, clear goals”, in which he addressed the issue of the BJP’s relations with the RSS and indiscipline.

He stated that recent controversies had caused some confusion among party workers. There could be divergent views on issues and it was only proper that these be debated in appropriate forums. Tolerance of dissent, the essence of inner-party democracy, however, could not be allowed to degenerate into a free-for-all.

“Our party has long been synonymous with discipline. Recent cases of indiscipline have caused deep distress to all of us and to our entire support base. All party units must ensure that internal democracy and discipline go hand in hand, said Mr Advani.

The BJP national executive began with confusion not only among party leaders but also in the media, as television news channels started reporting that former BJP President Bangaru Laxman had demanded the resignation of Mr Advani and accused him of being surrounded by a coterie.

However, in his interview in Hindi, Mr Laxman vehemently denied having voiced such a demand and using the word coterie.

But he did express his displeasure that some persons without any public support were influencing decision making within the party and that some senior leaders had been left out and felt humiliated.

During the press briefing after Mr Advani’s speech, BJP vice-president Venkaiah Naidu denied having received any letter from a section of party leaders seeking enforcement of the principle of “one-man-one-post”.

Even if a section of the BJP leaders desired the removal of Mr Advani as party president, after his presidential speech it is unlikely one will dare to vent such feelings within the next two days of the national executive meeting.

Mr Advani also tried to placate the RSS leadership which had been critical of his leading the party and asking him to step down in favour of the younger generation of leaders and also after his remarks on the founder of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Mr Advani said there had always been a symbiotic relationship between the Jana Sangh and the RSS, and later between the BJP and the RSS. Both organisations had benefited immensely from this relationship and together they had succeeded in bringing out ideology of cultural nationalism to the centrestage in India’s public life.”

This pre-emptive action by Mr Advani is also believed to be aimed at hardcore RSS members within the party who alleged that he had forsaken the path of “Hindutva” and building of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

But to take the wind out of his critics’ said, Mr Advani launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav for not visiting the disputed site after the terrorist attack.

To keep the Ram temple lobby within the BJP happy, he reiterated that the BJP remained committed to the construction of an appropriate temple at Ayodhya once the dispute over the site was resolved by mutual agreement between the two communities or a court judgement.”

The rest of Mr Advani’s speech was usual bashing of the Congress and the Left parties, the UPA government’s policies and that the Congress aim was to further the interests of a particular family at the cost of the common man.

BJP, Sena told to pay Rs 40 lakh for bandh

New Delhi, September 16
The Supreme Court today directed the Shiv Sena and the BJP to deposit Rs 20 lakh each within a week as fine imposed on them for the Mumbai bandh called by them two years ago to protest against the Ghatkopar bomb blast.

The order to this effect was passed by a Bench comprising Mr Justice Y K Sabharwal, Mr Justice C K Thakker and Mr Justice R V Ravindran.

The amount has to be deposited with the Maharashtra Government.

The Shiv Sena had moved the Supreme Court two days ago challenging the High Court order asking it to pay for the loss to public during the bandh.

The party and the BJP were both fined Rs 20 lakh by the Bombay High Court on June 22 this year on a PIL filed by NGO “Agni”, theatre personality Alyque Padamsee and former Municipal Commissioner B G Deshmukh, alleging that the city suffered a loss of Rs 50 lakh due to the bandh called by them.

Challenging the High Court order, the opposition party in Maharashtra said in its writ petition that the High Court, without going into the quantification of the damages, could not have imposed a fine on a political party. — PTI

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