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RSS leaders take BJP to task
K G Suresh in New Delhi | June 23, 2006 20:54 IST
From internal bickerings to off-the-record briefings, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on Friday took Bharatiya Janata Party leaders to task on the concluding day of the coordination meeting between the top brass of the two organisations in New Delhi.
Senior RSS functionaries led by general secretary Mohan Bhagwat categorically told party leaders, including Lal Kishenchand Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and party chief Rajnath Singh that all Parivar outfits will have to speak in one voice and efforts should be made to take everyone along if the BJP wanted to revive its fortunes, Parivar sources told PTI.
On the second day of their closed-door meeting at former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's residence, RSS leaders also minced no words during the two-day brainstorming session in pointing to the shortcomings of the party ahead of the make-or-mar assembly elections, including in the politically crucial Uttar Pradesh, early in 2007.
Expressing concern over the recent exit of several high-profile leaders like Uma Bharti and Babulal Marandi and dissidence in several state units, including party-ruled Gujarat and Jharkhand, the Sangh leaders emphasised on the need for discipline, internal democracy and primacy of ideology as against personality cult.
It was decided to have better coordination through regular interactions and such meetings, the sources said.
While RSS and BJP leaders had held an interactive session in January in Rajasthan after Sangh nominee Rajnath Singh took over as party chief, it was for the first time that BJP patriarch Vajpayee and Advani took part in such a meeting over the past several years.
"We are concerned over the problems and shortcomings. We ourselves say that BJP is a party with distinct identity. Even for small mistakes, people raise an accusing finger asking what is happening in the party," senior party leader M Venkaiah Naidu said after the meeting.
He, however, said it would be wrong to say there was nothing good about the party or that the situation was bad.
Interestingly, Naidu is understood to have told the RSS leaders in no uncertain terms that Sangh leaders in various states were intereferring in the party affairs and creating avoidable problems.
The RSS leaders responded by saying the BJP was free to take its decisions, but the party should clean up its stables and project a better and distinct image before the people if it wanted to make a comeback.
"There should be no compromise on ideology or discipline," they said.
The party leaders too should shed their mutual mistrust, stop "off-the-record briefings" against each other and work for the "overall" interests of the party, the Sangh leaders including joint general secretaries Madan Das Devi, Bhayyaji Joshi and Suresh Soni said.
They expressed concern over "leakage" of highly confidential matters to the media, including Thursday's deliberations.
The RSS leaders expressed satisfaction over the change in the party's decision making process after Rajnath Singh took over as party chief and stressed on the need for collective decision taking and treating the party president as "first among equals".
Murli Manohar Joshi, Arun Jaitley, Sanjay Joshi and V K Malhotra were among the party leaders who attended the brainstorming session.