RSS Chief Offers No Assurances To Advani

    NEW DELHI (TIP): BJP stalwart L K Advani on June 20 failed to extract a firm commitment from RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat that his concerns about the functioning and direction of the party would be heeded. While Advani raised with Bhagwat the issues he had cited when he resigned in the wake of Gujarat CM Narendra Modi’s appointment as chairman of BJP’s national campaign committee, the RSS chief offered little except the assurance to hold more discussions and an advice to the veteran saffronite to stay engaged.

    In fact, Bhagwat, who had persuaded Advani to withdraw his resignation on June 11, also said that other stakeholders needed to be heard before he took a view: a rather candid assertion that Advani’s views on party’s affairs were not the final word. The hour-long “detailed and candid interaction” at the RSS headquarters in the Capital ended without Bhagwat committing himself to any timeline for addressing the issues Advani raised with him before withdrawing his resignation.

    In his resignation letter to party president Rajnath Singh, Advani had said, “For some time, I have been finding it difficult to reconcile either with the current functioning of the party or the direction in which it is going.” He also said that most party leaders had deviated from the ideals of the founding fathers, and were pursuing their selfish agendas.

    Sangh Parivar circles had interpreted Advani’s lament about the “functioning” and “direction” of the party as shorthand for the resentment of his supporters about the functioning of RSS’s joint secretary general Suresh Soni and Modi’s ascendancy. Soni, RSS’s liaison person who is respected by many in saffron circles for his ideological clarity and tough resolve, has earned a reputation for not allowing himself to be intimidated by seniority.

    A statement issued by the RSS on the meeting suggests that no decision on Soni, especially on whether he should continue on Sangh’s BJP desk, will be taken without hearing him and others. As for Modi’s elevation, it is irreversible, and Rajnath had made it clear even before Advani withdrew his resignation. The RSS statement made it plain that Advani got no concession from Bhagwat. “Shri Advaniji conveyed his views on various developments in the country and the role of the party and the broad nationalist movement led by Sangh.

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    It was opined that several issues need further discussion and exchange of notes at various levels. Same will take place at appropriate time. Shri Bhagwatji suggested that such useful exchange of views should continue in future also,” the statement said. The meeting between the two leading Sangh Parivar figures was agreed upon after Advani took back his papers following a brief telephonic conversation with Bhagwat.

    The resignation, which was widely interpreted as a protest against Modi’s elevation and surprised many, ended equally dramatically the following day with Rajnath Singh emphasizing that Advani had retraced his step following talks with Bhagwat, while assuring that all his “concerns” would be “properly addressed”. Many who considered the assurance to be vague and meant more for soothing the veteran’s hurt rather than an expression of an intention to change decisions of the party, especially Modi’s appointment in Goa, claimed validation after seeing RSS’s version of the interaction between Advani and Bhagwat.

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