Veteran BJP leader L K Advani may attend the annual Dussehra function of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) here Saturday, indicating a rapprochement. According to sources in the RSS, Advani has said he would attend the programme along with his family. “This is after many many years that Advani will be participating in the Dussehra programme,” said a member.
Not exactly in the RSS good books since the times of Vajpayee-led NDA government, in which he was the Deputy Prime Minister, Advani hasn’t been extended an invitation by the RSS but has himself volunteered to attend, according to the sources.
Both Advani and Vajpayee were severely criticised by former Sarsanghchalak K S Sudarshan in 2004 when they were in power and were even asked by the latter to step down to make way for young blood. Senior RSS leaders were upset with the duo for not “caring enough for Hindutva”.
A senior functionary said the turning point in the RSS-Advani relationship was when four pracharaks were abducted from Tripura and killed in Bangladesh during the NDA-I tenure. “The RSS was angry that despite being the home minister, Advani had done little to secure the release of the four pracharaks, whose whereabouts were informed by the RSS to him. Advani hailing Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah as ‘truly secular’ had come later and only aggravated the strain in relationship. The killing of pracharaks, however, continued to be the main thorn in the relationship,” he added.
Asked about the significance of Advani’s return to the RSS headquarters, the functionary said, “Nothing much should be read into it, especially politically, since Advani is clearly out of political reckoning. It’s possibly just a feeling of repentance that is bringing him here.”
Dalit religious leader from Punjab to be chief guest
The RSS has invited Dalit religious leader Nirmaldas Maharaj from Punjab as chief guest for the Dussehra function, where the RSS chief delivers the all-important policy speech for the entire Sangh Parivar. Nirmaldas heads the Siriguru Sadhu Ravidas Sampardai Society working among Dalits. According to sources, the invite to Nirmaldas “has to do with his work to prevent conversion”. Dalits flock to Nagpur by thousands to attend the annual Dhammachakra Pravartan Din that commemorates Bhim Rao Ambedkar’s conversion to Buddhism along with lakhs of his supporters. The RSS invite to a Dalit Hindu seer assumes significance against the backdrop of the Dhamma day.