Sulking BJP brass makes beeline to meet RSS chief

New Delhi: Several leaders of crisis-ridden BJP made a beeline to meet RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat during his three-day stay in the capital, which ended on Sunday, to air their grievances and seek his advice.

Though RSS has always maintained that it is for BJP to resolve its internal squabbles and that the organisation was there only to "help and advise", there is little doubt about who guides and controls the party.

When Bhagwat and all the senior-most RSS leaders arrived here on Thursday, BJP president Rajnath Singh was one of the first ones to hold a meeting with him. Later, Bhagwat said in a press conference that he and Rajnath had discussed the issues plaguing BJP and the latter had promised to look into them.

Varun Gandhi, one of the Young Turks of the party who was in the eye of a storm during the elections for his alleged hate speech, met Bhagwat on Friday.

Later in the evening, after Bhagwat's interaction with the press, senior leader L K Advani sent his close confidants Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, M Venkaiah Naidu and Ananth Kumar to him to discuss the reasons for the poll debacle and the road ahead for the party.

"Serious brainstorming about the causes -- big and small -- of the defeat and problems like factionalism and infighting were discussed between RSS and BJP," a senior party leader said.

Bhagwat is said to have discussed with the BJP leaders who visited him, the qualifications that RSS feels the next party president should have.

"It was felt that party leaders should be allowed to vent their ire within the organisation. The party could not go on a sacking spree for indiscipline," a party MP said.

Senior leader L K Advani, whose continuance as Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha was the hottest topic of discussion, also held a 90-minute meeting with Bhagwat. On Sunday, Bhagwat called on Advani for a breakfast meeting.

Bhagwat surprised many when he visited senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi on Saturday and had lunch with him. In the evening Joshi visited RSS office here.

Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister B C Khanduri met Bhagwat to air his grievances. He has been sulking ever since he was forced to step down as the central leadership held him responsible for BJP's failure to win a single Lok Sabha seat in Uttarakhand. He was removed despite claiming the support of 24 of the 35 BJP MLAs.

His bete noire and former RSS member B S Koshiyari also called on Bhagwat later.

Others who called on Bhagwat include Bal Apte, Chandan Mitra, Balbir Punj, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Kalraj Mishra, and Shahnawaz Hussain, among others.

A surprise visitor was Janata Party leader Subramanyam Swami.

Bureau Report