New Delhi, Feb. 18: For someone who once thought the BJP is a “joke”, Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy has come a long way. With the RSS on his side, the former Harvard professor is reported to be lobbying for an entry into the party.

“I think the BJP is a joke. It is a party of semi-illiterates and has fascist tendencies,” Swamy had said in April 1991, a statement he admitted to having made when contacted today.

He seems to have changed his mind now. “Political circumstances” have changed, Swamy said. “I have suggested a Hindu front in Tamil Nadu. The BJP can be part of the front.” But the BJP is reported to have spurned his advances. Opposing the Kanchi acharya’s arrest and a hysterical campaign against Sonia Gandhi may have won Swamy the Sangh parivar’s affection, but his admission into the party is one RSS diktat the BJP has refused to follow.

“There is no such proposal. There may have been a discussion about an alliance for the purpose of Tamil Nadu elections, nothing else,” said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javdekar.

Swamy attributes reports that he wants to join the BJP to Atal Bihari Vajpayee announcing his retirement from active politics. “To tell you the truth, I had a problem with Vajpayee. Now that he is fading away, there are fears in the BJP that I may want to come back,” he said.

The “problem” he is referring to goes back to his public spat with Vajpayee after the Janata Party government fell. Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister and Vajpayee had accused the government of dropping criminal charges against Dubai-based smugglers, like the Galadhari brothers.

At the time, Swamy fished out a cabinet note to prove the decision had been taken on Vajpayee’s insistence when he was foreign affairs minister in the Janata government.

Added to that was his slanderous campaign against Vajpayee’s personal life as India’s “most famous bachelor”.  Although Swamy joined politics with a stint in the Jan Sangh in 1973, he never joined the BJP largely because of the tension with Vajpayee. He still maintains he has not met any leader from the party.

“The fact that I want a Hindu front consisting of parties espousing the Hindu cause against assaults like the Shankaracharya’s arrest may have something to do with speculation about my joining the BJP,” he said.