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RSS steps in, Advani withdraws resignation
Rajnath promises to address veteran’s concerns on party functioning, but rules out rethink on Modi
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 11
BJP founder-member LK Advani today conceded to party ideological fountainhead RSS’ advice to “respect” the Parliamentary Board’s decision and withdraw his resignation, thus ending the two-day political crisis triggered by his strong reaction to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s elevation as campaign committee chairman.

Speaking on behalf of Advani, who yesterday resigned from all organisational positions, BJP president Rajnath Singh said the veteran leader had decided to accept the Board’s request to stay on in the party’s core bodies.

Interestingly, barely hours after he denied reports that the party was under pressure from the RSS over the crisis triggered by Advani’s resignation, Rajnath said: “Today afternoon, RSS sarsanghchalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat spoke to Shri Advani and asked him to respect the BJP Parliamentary Board decision and continue to guide the party in national interest. Shri Advani has decided to accept Shri Bhagwat’s advice.”

This, perhaps, is the first time when the BJP has openly admitted to an RSS role in the party’s internal matter. Many are seeing this as a deliberate attempt to “show” the veteran leader “that times are changing and he too should change for the sake of the party”. “Only if the party wins that anyone will get anything,” a senior leader said.

The BJP Parliamentary Board had yesterday decided not to accept Advani’s resignation from the party National Executive, Parliamentary Board and Election Committee and requested him to continue on these three bodies. Since morning, many senior leaders, including Sushma Swaraj and Uma Bharti, tried to placate him but failed.

Significantly, even though Rajnath was addressing the media at Advani’s residence, the man of the moment was conspicuous by his absence. On why Advani was not present, Rajnath said, “I told him that this is my press conference and it will not look nice that you sit and hear me.”

In a bid to soften the blow, Rajnath said he had assured Advani that all his “concerns” over the party’s functioning he had cited while quitting would be “properly addressed”.

Rajnath has already made it clear that there will be no going back on the decision to elevate Modi, one of the major reasons for Advani's resignation. As the will of the RSS prevails, there does not seem to be any further consolation in store for the isolated leader, except that the party may delay Modi’s announcement as the PM candidate. Sources say Advani has been assured extensive consultation on the issue. Isolation complete, Advani will now have to live with the new set of rules in the party he built from scratch. His choices are limited, as it is clear that both the party and the RSS are completely with Modi, who they feel is their best bet to take the BJP to the finishing line in 2014.

As the BJP moves on with Modi and Rajnath at the helm, the biggest challenge for the party would be to acquire the all-important “critical mass” of around 180-200 seats so that it can hold on to existing allies and attract new friends.

While natural allies such as the Akali Dal and the Shiv Sena will stay on irrespective of the PM candidate, problems are expected from JD-U after Modi’s name is formally announced for the top job.

The Bhagwat Effect

  • The apparent climbdown by Advani came after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat (pic) persuaded him to reverse his decision to quit key posts
  • Party chief Rajnath Singh credited the RSS chief for making the veteran stay, a tacit admission that the BJP had failed to win Advani over after he resigned
  • This perhaps is the first time the BJP has admitted to an RSS role in the party’s internal matter
  • Many see this as an attempt to “show” the veteran leader “that times are changing and he, too, should change for the party”





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