Top party leaders confer with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

The Bharatiya Janata Party seems to have decided on Monday evening to sharpen its attack on the government in Parliament on Tuesday even as top party leaders conferred with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living Foundation, who has recently been publicly hobnobbing with Team Anna.

Although the Monday evening meeting at senior leader L.K. Advani's residence was billed as a meeting of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), besides the BJP, only Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal (United) was present. For unknown reasons, the Akali Dal and the Shiv Sena stayed away.

Although on Monday morning sources in the JD(U) said coordinated protest action by the NDA would be discussed, this did not happen. It seems that some NDA partners were miffed that the BJP announced its own action plan on Saturday without consulting them.

It was Mr. Yadav's idea that a coordinated action by “all” Opposition parties should take forward the current standoff between the ruling and Opposition parties.

However, the Left parties quickly got together nine parties on one platform and announced that August 23 will be their day of protest. Following this, the BJP announced its own protests starting August 25 and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh called upon all its fronts to join the struggle against corruption launched by Team Anna. The result was that the BJP was not able to get even its NDA partners on board.

Mr. Yadav said on Monday that his party was “already protesting.” “Hum to apna kar hi rahe hain” (We are already organising protests) and “each NDA partner is planning its own protest action.”

Speaking to The Hindu from Patna, JD(U) spokesperson Shivanand Tewari said, “I know nothing about any plan for a joint action with the BJP.”

Nothing is known about what transpired at the meeting Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had with Mr. Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley. Mr. Yadav, who was present when the “spiritual guru” arrived, walked out soon after.

Sources in the BJP said there was annoyance in the party that Mr. Advani chose to talk in Nellore on Sunday about a “demand” for fresh elections “without any prior discussion in the party.” Even BJP leaders conceded in private that this had once again created the impression that Mr. Advani wanted an early election as he continued to harbour prime ministerial ambition. This did not suit the party as it has yet to put together new alliances. Besides, it is still unsure of what will happen in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election in mid-2012.

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