WASHINGTON DC, June 12, 2005 | ISSN: 1684-2057 | www.satribune.com

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Anti-Advani protests in Allahabad June 9 led by Shiv Sena

Advani Episode Leaves Deep Cracks as Crisis Continues

By Arun Rajnath

NEW DELHI, June 12: Although BJP Leader LK Advani has retained his top party position, he has not come out of the resignation episode unscathed and clearly Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi has emerged as the obvious alternative to take over the party, backed strongly by the uncompromising Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).

Sources of the Sangh Parivar say Advani’s second tenure as the Party Chief is understood by all to be a stop gap arrangement till the Bihar Assembly elections to keep the NDA intact. Dr. Joshi may have the mantle in the next National Executive Committee meeting slated next year.

The VHP has clearly stated that it would not accept Advani as the BJP Chief and it would not even hesitate to form a new political party. This means that the VHP would not mind breaking up the BJP. This also shows that the days ahead for Advani may be more stormy. (Pix Left shows protestors burning an Advani effigy in Allahabad on June 9)

Advani withdrew his resignation when he realized that former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi had surreptitiously joined hands and that he would become irrelevant. The withdrawal of resignation deepened the inner crisis of the Sangh Parivar instead of resolving the dispute.

The VHP has severely criticized the withdrawal of resignation by Advani and top leaders of the organization are meeting in the holy city of Haridwar on June 15 and 16 to chalk out their future strategy against Advani. The formation of a new Hindu hard line political party cannot be ruled out.

Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had tacitly supported Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi during the two-day crisis. Vajpayee’s right-hand man Mahesh Sharma had contacted Joshi at his official residence on June 8. This had deepened the inner crisis of the Party.

Then Joshi came out openly and criticized Advani’s statement on Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah. It is to be noted that it was Dr. Joshi who thwarted all attempts of the Advani loyalists to pass the resolution in Advani’s favor in the Parliamentary Board meeting held in Delhi on June 8.

A variety of leaders of the BJP had also come openly in support of Dr. Joshi. The Chief Minister of Jharkhand Babu Lal Marandi was the new entrant in the list of the Joshi supporters. Privileged sources told the South Asia Tribune that Dr. Joshi had spoken to the RSS Chief KS Sudarshan on Saturday, June 11.

The presence of a Vajpayee loyalist, Mahesh Sharma at Dr. Joshi’s official residence at 6, Raisina Road was meaningful. Mahesh Sharma is one of the Vajpayee-trio, viz. Lalji Tandon, Mahesh Sharma and Shiv Kumar Parikh. All of them take care of Vajpayee’s Parliamentary constituency Lucknow.

This correspondent saw Mahesh Sharma at Joshi’s residence who was preparing the Press Note for Dr. Joshi prior to his press conference in which Joshi did not name Advani but openly disagreed with him by saying Jinnah could not be called secular.

He said: “We don’t agree with anybody who calls Jinnah as secular. He was responsible for the partition of this country. He followed the two-nation theory and lakhs of people died during his time.”

After the press conference, this correspondent talked to Dr. Joshi and asked him whether he was aiming to become the next Chief of the BJP to which he replied: “At present Lal Krishna Advani is the President of the Party, and I have no difference with him.”

When asked if he is in contact with other leaders on this issue, Dr. Joshi did not respond directly. He only said: “I am always in the contact with the leaders of the RSS and VHP and if the time comes for the election of the new Chief, it would be decided by the whole Party.”

To a question whether he is getting support from other quarters over his stand against Advani’s statement on Jinnah, Dr. Joshi said: “It is not because of my stand. I have taken this stand in the larger interest of our Party, and whosoever is related to the doctrines would support it. You must be clear that I am not lobbying for anything.”

When asked if he has any tacit support of Mr. Vajpayee, he said: “Don’t jump to conclusions.”

Joshi has always been a favorite of the RSS. He was very close to the ex-RSS Chief Bala Saheb Deoras’s younger brother Bhau Saheb Deoras. Bhau Saheb Deoras was entrusted with the responsibility to look after the political affairs of the BJP and during this time Joshi was appointed the BJP Chief in 1992.

During his regime the Babri Mosque at Ayodhya was demolished on December 6, 1992. After the demolition, Lal Krishna Advani and Atal Behari Vajpayee expressed grief over the incident but Dr. Joshi remained firm on his stand. This increased his acceptability among the Hindutva forces.

But after the sudden demise of Bhau Saheb Deoras, Advani and his coterie took over. Dr. Joshi became irrelevant yet due to support from Prof. Rajendra Singh “Rajju Bhaiyya”, he could not be completely sidelined.

Bala Saheb Deoras appointed Prof. Rajendra Singh as the RSS Chief during his lifetime, but by then Advani and his men had gained full power. When Sudershan became the Chief, Advani was able to completely sideline Dr. Joshi, as Sudershan and Advani happen to be close friends.

Advani even tried to send Dr. Joshi to Uttaranchal as the Chief Minister, but he refused to go there, and remained a player in national politics. Advani could not completely obliterate him on account of the strong support Joshi enjoys from the VHP, Bajrang Dal and Swadeshi Jagran Manch.

Analysts say that during the regime of the NDA, the RSS and other right-winger organizations opposed the policies of the NDA and diluted the Hindutva ideology. Advani along with Vajpayee became the targets.

Sources say that Advani was also averse to the idea of making Jaswant Singh the Party Chief as a stop gap arrangement. This would have resulted in handing over the organizational key in Vajpayee’s hands with whom Advani has grave differences.

On the other hand the Party organizations of three States viz. Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh were supporting Dr. Joshi barring some voices of dissent. But the majority of the State office bearers were in Joshi’s favor. This also prompted Advani to quickly withdraw his resignation before he could become history.

VHP, meanwhile, continues to attack Advani over the resignation issue. Talking to the South Asia Tribune, International Vice President of the VHP, Acharya Giriraj Kishore said: “Advani has shown his moral weakness by withdrawing his resignation and this certainly will weaken the Party. It also shows his political ambitions and his political dreams.”

When asked about the future strategy of the VHP, Kishore said: “Our leaders and Sadhu-Sants are meeting in Haridwar after a few days. We would discuss the matter and we will explore other political options.”

Asked whether the VHP will float another pro-Hindutva Party, Kishore said: “May be. This option cannot be ruled out in the present situation.”

VHP General Secretary Praveen Togadia told the South Asia Tribune on telephone from Ahmedabad: “Advani's resignation was a drama and the Hindu community will never forgive him for this. He has betrayed the whole nation."

"They (BJP) have passed a resolution as a compromise in which they have said that Jinnah was not secular and the BJP rejects his two-nation theory. But we don’t want resolutions. We want ideology and its practical implementation in social and political life.”

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