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Advani survives, to make an honourable exit

Sangh asks BJP to stick to ideology, to review developments on August 19

Our Political Bureau  |  New Delhi 

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief LK Advani seems to have survived to fight another day, with the Rashtriya Swaymsewak Sangh (RSS) saying the question of Advani's resignation is the internal matter of the party.
After an hour-long meeting Advani had with senior Sangh functionaries the Sangh headquarters here today, RSS Gene-ral Secretary Mohan Bhagwat said in a statement the Sangh expected the BJP to make efforts to address the sentiments expressed by it on ideology, conduct and organisation. The RSS would not interfere in the decisions of the BJP, it added.
"We expect that while doing all this, our swaymsevaks will be cautious in maintaining organisational discipline," the statement said. The RSS functionaries will meet on August 19 to "review" the situation.
Advani, accompanied by M Venkaiah Naidu, Jaswant Singh and the RSS' man in the BJP Sanjay Joshi, met Bhagwat and joint general secretary Suresh Soni, Sangh sources said.
According to top sources, the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections, where the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) feels it has a strong chance of forming a government, and that Advani did not want to resign "under pressure" are supposed to be factors behind the reprieve.
Both sides are understood to have discussed a formula to end the deadlock, which could include Advani's resignation from one of the two posts held by him. Apart from being party chief, Advani is also the leader of the BJP parliamentary party. The formula also talks of Advani's respectable exit to show that he had not buckled under the RSS pressure.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Naidu said Advani would continue to be the party president and would preside over parliamentary party meeting tomorrow to discuss issues to be raised in the Monsoon Session of Parliament. "We are going to function under Advani's leadership," he said.
Earlier, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had come out in support of Advani, although he did say the "one man, one post" imbroglio would be solved as per the party rules. "The party had made this rule earlier, though it was not bound by it," said Vajpayee, in Gwalior.
To a query about Vajpayee's comments, Naidu said, "I have not seen any such statement as I was extremely busy."
Naidu said during the meeting with RSS leaders, the party leaders conveyed to them "the discussions we had among ourselves and told them that we intend to address their concern and move forward". "It is my assessment and understanding that they are satisfied," the BJP leader said.
Naidu parried a question on the postponement of the BJP national executive to be held in Chennai from July 21, saying "we have not made any statement on the advancement or postponement of it."

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First Published: Mon, July 18 2005. 00:00 IST
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