The Bharatiya Janata Party president, Rajnath Singh, on Tuesday night, decided to ask party MP Arun Shourie to “clarify” what he meant by his remarks during the course of an interview to NDTV on Monday, which is seen as derogatory to the party and its leadership.
The note to be sent to Mr. Shourie asking for his explanation was being prepared. The decision followed an informal meeting between Mr. Singh and some party general secretaries and office bearers at the party office. “We should talk to Mr. Shourie, we must hear him out before taking any hasty step,” an office-bearer, who attended the meeting, said.
“The entire situation in the party was discussed,’ one leader said, while another remarked: “The situation is that many leaders are going around with daggers under their armpits. Who will stab whom and when cannot be said.”
The meeting was attended, among others, by general secretaries Ramlal, Thawarchand Gehlot and Vinay Katiyar and vice-president M.A. Naqvi.
One view was that the deteriorating indiscipline cannot be set right by the “danda” (stick) alone. The party should be able to hear out the aggrieved person before taking any action.
Separately, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh spokesperson Ram Madhav indicated that it was for the BJP to sort out the mess and decide what to do. The RSS would give its advice if and when asked.
Reports indicated that RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was likely to be in Delhi on Tuesday or Wednesday and Mr. Rajnath Singh would go to meet him to apprise him of the latest developments.
One view of the “go slow” on action against Mr. Shourie was that “he was close to the RSS, the BJP’s “parent” organisation, and, therefore, caution needed to be exercised. Mr. Jaswant Singh, on the other hand, was never an RSS favourite. Yet another reason for the abundant caution exercised by the BJP leadership was “a Mr. Shourie outside the BJP may prove to be far more of an embarrassment than a Mr. Shourie inside the party,” said a BJP insider.
It has been noted, but without much embarrassment, that Mr. Shourie confessed to being “more affected by Atalji’s [former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee] pain [on being thwarted in his effort to oust Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi after the 2002 riots] than what happened in Gujarat.” In short, “Atalji’s pain” was more important than the killing of innocent people.
Some party leaders were also amazed that besides calling party leaders all kinds of names like Humpty Dumpty, Mr. Shourie had pointedly attacked Mr. L.K. Advani when he said he was far more complementary to Mohammad Ali Jinnah during his Pakistan visit in 2005 than Mr. Jaswant Singh in his book. Mr. Advani paid his “respectful homage” to “a great man” while recommending Jinnah’s secularism as an ideal for India to emulate.
The party, Mr. Shourie said, did not make Mr. Jaswant Singh’s Jinnah comments in his book so much an issue as his supposed “denigration of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.” This was because an emphasis of Jinnah was likely to reopen Mr. Advani’s Jinnah episode and questions would be asked why Mr. Jaswant Singh got the sack while Mr. Advani continues to sit at the party high table.