in New Delhi
March 29. – On 6 April, when Mr LK Advani and Mr Rajnath Singh begin their Bharat Suraksha Yatra from Gujarat and Orissa respectively, the RSS will keep an eye on their journey and particularly on the BJP president, who became their choice as Mr Advani’s successor in the wake of the latter’s controversial remarks on Jinnah.
A majority in the RSS is apparently unhappy with the yatra, which they say is purely an “Advani brainchild” and ill-timed as it clashes with the centenary celebrations of “Shri Guruji”, the Sangh ideologue. “There is not much enthusiasm among them (Sangh leaders and cadres) for Mr Advani. In their view Mr Advani still has a long way to go before he regains the confidence of Sangh workers,” a source close to the parivar told The Statesman. “In comparison”, the source added, “Mr Rajnath Singh certainly enjoys the sympathy and support of the RSS.” But that does not mean direct support from Sangh to the BJP yatra unlike in the past when it used to play a role in the planning and organisation of yatras months in advance, sources said.
A section of party leaders, however, told The Statesman that Mr Rajnath Singh would start his yatra with three “advantages” as compared to Mr Advani. “Firstly, he (Rajnath) is the first BJP leader to have reached the top on the strength of his grassroots following, unlike his predecessors, who had been imposed from above. Mr Singh worked his way up from being a chief minister and Union minister till he became the party president. In his initial years in the party, Mr Advani did not show leadership qualities. The RSS groomed him to become what he became afterwards”, they said. Mr Advani became a leader in the party only after the Ram Janmabhoomi temple movement, they pointed out.
“Secondly, during his long political career,” sources said, “Mr Rajanth Singh has constantly striven to project himself as a farmers’ leader. He talks about issues having a direct bearing on the common man.” The sources said: “The most important plus point for him is the RSS support. The RSS having installed him to the top post in the BJP would not like to see him lag behind Mr Advani or come across as a junior leader in the party.”
To Sangh with love…
NEW DELHI, March 29. — “Thank you very much. With friends like you, we don’t need enemies”. This is the reaction of the Congress in the wake of RSS ideologue Mr MG Vaidya as also VHP chief Mr Ashok Singhal reportedly praising party chief Mrs Sonia Gandhi. Party spokesman Mr Abhishek Singhvi said: “We don’t need their support”. — PTI