BJP sees positive fallout for morale

"Focus now on Ayodhya, not Advani" "Mr. Advani stands discredited after his description of the day the Babri Masjid was demolished on December 9, 1992 as the saddest day in his life."

Neena Vyas

NEW DELHI: Bharatiya Janata Party leaders here on Tuesday hoped that the Ayodhya terrorist attack would have a softening effect on the standoff between their president L.K. Advani and their mentors in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh even as it would once again "energise" BJP workers and revive the party's political fortunes.

Reports suggest that Mr. Advani's Pakistan visit and his `Jinnah musings' continued to be under scrutiny on the last day of the Surat meeting of `prant pracharaks' (district organisation heads) of the RSS with some still demanding that he quit the party position at the earliest.

But a senior BJP leader who attended the party's emergency meeting here on Tuesday afternoon was confident that the Ayodhya developments would have a "positive effect" as "the focus in the Sangh is now not Advani but Ayodhya."

Favourable factors

Several "positive" factors were cited. One, for the first time in the last several years, including the years of the Vajpayee Government, the Sangh Parivar was speaking with one voice — all were supportive of the idea of a strong protest against the terrorist attack.

Two, it was felt that the morale of party workers would be given a boost by the prospect of Ram Janmabhoomi taking centre-stage once again.

This, leaders felt, would especially benefit the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, where its political fortunes had plummeted.

The fact that Mr. Advani immediately sent two former Chief Ministers, Rajnath Singh and Kalyan Singh, to Ayodhya was part of the effort to revive the party in the State.

In the Ayodhya attack and the recent incident of vandalism of the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya statue in Rampur, the party has a fresh opportunity to increase its strength in U.P. and once again enthuse workers, a senior leader said.

As for the Advani-RSS affair, some party leaders felt that the RSS could be "softened" and now "persuaded" not to press for Mr. Advani's exit from one of the two posts he is holding as party president and Leader of the Opposition.

But they also admitted privately that there was no information on what the RSS was actually thinking and what message it would convey to the BJP in the next few days. The crucial RSS meeting in Surat ended on Tuesday.

There was also the view expressed by a senior party leader that "Mr. Advani stood discredited" after his description of the day the Babri Masjid was demolished on December 9, 1992 as "the saddest day in my life", and "any effort by him to once again recast himself in the role of a Ram Janmabhoomi hero would fail."

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