Advanis succession agenda on Atal-Surdashan menu

New Delhi, Nov 17 | Updated: Nov 18 2005, 05:30am hrs
The succession imbroglio in the BJP perceptibly gained momentum on Thursday, with RSS chief KS Sudarshan holding a lengthy one-on-one meeting with former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the issue.

The Atal-Sudarshan meet at Mr Vajpayees residence lasting over two hours, precedes a tentative meeting between the RSS chief and BJP president LK Advani, which is expected to take place in the next two days. Mr Advani has already announced that he will be demitting office at the Mumbai national council session next month and the current moves are part of the exercise to ensure a smooth transition for whosoever succeeds Mr Advani as the next BJP chief. Mr Sudharshan is leaving for Assam and the north-east on Saturday and will not reach Nagpur till mid-December.

Developments in the Sangh Parivar were marked by another interesting facetremarks by Mr Advani on Tuesday at the HT leadership summit where he has once again stood by his comments on Jinnah that he made in Pakistan. The remarks had triggered a raging controversy in the Parivar leading to a break in communications between heads of the BJP and RSS.

Matters, though, had subsided subsequently, which had led to a reconciliation between the top leadership. This was evident by the fact that Mr Sudarshan had reportedly wished Mr Advani on his birthday as well as exchanged Diwali greetings.

The Vajpayee-Sudarshan meeting on Thursday took place even as party general secretary (organisation) and vice-president Bal Apte held separate talks with the Sangh top brass, including general secretary Mohan Bhagwat and joint general secretary Suresh Soni on the one hand and Mr Advani on the other. Discussions had also been held on Wednesday between BJP vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu and senior Sangh leaders including Mr Bhagwat and Mr Soni.

However, BJP leaders including Mr Naidu have refuted reports that the meeting was related to change of leadership in the BJP, maintaining that they were courtesy calls with the discussions, in some instances, revolving on issues of national importance. Party leaders also added that discussions on the issue was not likely with individual second-rung leaders of both organisations.