BJP crisis: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat meets Advani
New Delhi: Efforts to resolve the growing crisis within the BJP continued on Sunday, with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat travelling to LK Advani’s residence here to hold a breakfast meeting. Bhagwat, who was accompanied by senior RSS leader Madandas Devi, is expected to continue discussions on a new roadmap for the BJP, including a possible change of leadership.
As part of the efforts, the RSS chief had yesterday held a series of meetings with senior BJP leaders, including Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. There were indications that the BJP could come out with some statement today but Sangh Parivar sources said nothing spectacular could be expected.
Bhagwat’s Saturday meeting with Joshi, who is a known detractor of Advani, followed late night discussions on Friday with BJP leaders close to Advani. It is not usual for RSS chiefs to visit the houses of BJP leaders.
Later in the day, Advani, who is under pressure from rebels on his continuance as Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, had met Bhagwat at RSS’ office in Jhandewalan in Central Delhi. That meeting went on for 90 minutes.
The hectic parleys come amidst reports that Advani may be asked to step down and that various names are being considered for succeeding him as well as the new president for the party. However, both the RSS and BJP leaders have maintained that they were not discussing any succession plan.
An RSS spokesperson said Bhagwat and BJP leaders were discussing the state of affairs in the party and assessing whether Sangh's help was needed.
"All discussions taking place are in respect to the condition of the party (BJP). RSS leaders are exchanging notes (with BJP) whether there is any need for Sangh to extend some support to them," RSS spokesman Ram Madhav said.
For the record, he insisted that no succession plan for BJP was being discussed.
"RSS has no policy to give directions to vacate or occupy a post. Such news are rumours. There are no succession plans being planned in Jhandewalan (RSS office)", he said.
Sushma Swaraj, whose name is doing the rounds for the post of Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, met Advani before and after his meeting with Bhagwat.
Former Uttarakhand chief minister BC Khanduri, who was forced to step down following the party's poor showing in the state in the Lok Sabha polls, had also called on the RSS chief yesterday.
BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar also insisted that "no resignation or leadership change was discussed" during the meetings that Bhagwat had with the party leaders.
"You won't see these things... There was no mention about either leadership change or resignations by some leaders. BJP will chart out its own course of action and will continue its fight on behalf of the masses on the issues of national and public importance," he told reporters.
Bhagwat had on Friday said RSS would "help and advise" only if BJP will ask for it. He expressed confidence that the party will "emerge from the crisis".
The BJP has been in turmoil after its poor show in the Lok Sabha elections. The crisis worsened last week when veteran leader Jaswant Singh was expelled from the party over his controversial book "Jinnah - India, Partition, Independence" in which he has praised Pakistan's founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
Singh and senior party leaders Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha as well as former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra have cornered the party's top leader, Advani, saying in media interviews that he was in the know of the militant-hostage swap during the 1999 hijack of an Indian Airlines aircraft.
Advani has all along maintained that he was unaware that three terrorists, including Maulana Masood Azhar, were to be freed in exchange for the 160 hostages on flight IC-814 that had been hijacked to Kandahar while on a flight from Kathmandu to New Delhi.