//UPA minister and Advani stay clear of RSS tribal fair

UPA minister and Advani stay clear of RSS tribal fair

AHMEDABAD — The three-day Shabri Kumbh Mela for tribals opened yesterday at Subir in Dangs district of Gujarat but Federal Minister of State for Home Affairs Manikrao Gamit, who was invited as the chief guest, washed his hands of the RSS-sponsored event at the eleventh hour.

A Congress leader here told this correspondent that the UPA minister, who is also a tribal leader highly respected by the people of Dangs, hailing as he is from a nearby Maharashtra region, had agreed to attend the inaugural ceremony but the party high command had asked him to keep off the all-Hindu fair organised by separatist political bodies, meaning the RSS, the VHP and the BJP.

RSS leaders are stunned by the last-minute volte-face by Gamit — his name was also printed in the invite — at whose instance the five local tribal kings had been made vice-presidents in the organising committee as he was very popular and influential among the tribals due to his expert knowledge of the local dialects.

BJP workers here also wondered why former party supremo L.K. Advani was not attending the fair despite the fact that he is now in Gujarat for two days and his protégé, Chief Minister Narendra Modi is flying to the venue tomorrow despite his busy schedule.

Incidentally, only a handful of BJP workers were present here today when Advani inaugurated a function to mark the birth anniversary of a Hindu freedom fighter and fewer still when he addressed them in a sprawling hall.