The RSS Chief clears the air
The RSS Sarsangchalak, Mohan Bhagwat’s interview to a TV channel has essentially made it clear that change was imminent in the BJP and the impression created by the coterie around Mr LK Advani that he had continued in his position as the leader of the opposition at the instance of the Sangh was erroneous. I have always maintained that there is no leader in India who comes anywhere near Advani so far as using the media to his advantage is concerned. It is in a way commendable if you look at things from his point of view and deplorable if you see how truth gets distorted each time.
It was known for sometimes now that the RSS had given a deadline of August 15 to the BJP to make up its mind on a leadership change as things cannot continue in the way they are. The party is faction ridden and there is no discipline. A coterie is in complete control and the hindutva ideology had been put on the backburner. Instead of owning up defeat, various leaders were now busy passing on the blame to others and in the process the cadres were getting conflicting signals. An attempt was being made to limit the choice for succession to only those who have been close to Advani even though their commitment to hindutva was suspect. Till two days ago, a perception was being created that the RSS had never asked for Advani’s resignation without caring to understand how the Sangh functions.
This is the reason I think why Mohan Bhagwat went public on Times Now.
The interview was significant because of its timing as it was on the eve of the BJP’s Chintan Baithak even though its crux could have been interpreted in a better manner. Many questions which could have been asked to clear the air were not asked maybe because the interviewer did not have time or had not prepared himself properly. Bhagwat I think did some very plain speaking and certainly did not confine the choice of the next BJP Chief to only those between 55 to 60 years as is being made out but said that it was for the BJP to decide who should lead it. His reference to 55-60 years old was in response to a question where he said that a law of nature is younger people replace older people. It was a very general statement.
But what was very categorical is that the BJP has a lot to worry about and cannot continue the way it is. Now the question that arises is when will the change of leadership take place. While it is for the party to decide its course of action, I suspect, it will be sooner than later and perhaps things may start rolling in the month of August itself. Bhagwat by rejecting the suggestion whether the next chief would be from among four or five close to Advani enlarged its scope stating that he could name at least 75 others. This amounted to virtually rejecting the names which were put forward by the interviewer.
Other than the RSS Chief’s interview, the BJP is in deep trouble. It was a fore gone conclusion that Jaswant will be expelled from the party for his pro Jinnah book. In fact, the expulsion could have wider ramifications since even Advani has till this date not withdrawn his remarks in favour of Jinnah in Pakistan in June, 2005. He may either backtrack now or put in his papers at least making his retirement plan known. Jaswant has compromised Advani’s position beyond redemption. As he himself has hinted in his interview, life for Jaswant now onwards will be only as a MP. Yes, the publicity will do him good and the book will sell. Fortunately, he did not talk of any mole in the PMO as he did last time when his last book was released.
Interesting days are ahead. One has to see whether the RSS will be able to resuscitate the BJP or will the Saffron party just fritter away if it chooses to defy the RSS.