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Revive Jan Sangh -- BJP hardlines

NEW DELHI, JANUARY 17: Alarm bells have started ringing for the BJP with hardliners within the party planning to resurrect their parent party, the Jan Sangh, in a bid to capitalise on the cadre's disenchantment with the top leadership for diluting the party's ideology to stay in power.

BJP insiders say that the near defunct Jan Sangh, which had given way to the BJP in 1980, is fast becoming a rallying point for ``discontent elements'' within the party. In a significant indication of the things to come, Jan Sangh chief Balraj Madhok on Saturday shot off a letter to RSS chief Rajendra Singh, exhorting him to come forward to revive the Jan Sangh, with Hindutva as its main plank.

In his letter, Madhok is reported to have driven home the growing feeling among hardliners within the BJP, that the party after its assumption of power under A B Vajpayee has shed its basic character and ideology which was centred around Hindutva and the three demands of a Uniform Civil Code, abolition of Article 370 and a Ram templeat Ayodhya.

The RSS is already reported to be unhappy with the functioning of the Vajpayee government, particularly its handling of the recent hijacking crisis and the Kashmir situation. Madhok's letter to the RSS chief, sources said, seeks the latter's intervention in either restoring the BJP to its original ideology and, if not, resurrecting the Jan Sangh as the only alternate Hindu national party.

``The BJP under A B Vajpayee has become the B-team of the Congress. With the abandonment of its main plank of Hindutva, it has lost its original character of being the only national-level opposition to the Congress,'' Madhok told The Indian Express on Monday.

The veteran Jan Sangh leader, who along with Shyama Prasad Muhkerjee was one of the founding fathers of the Jan Sangh in 1952, said that he was in touch with several like-minded leaders in the BJP. ``The main issue is that the BJP should stick to its original ideology instead of radically diluting it, failing which the Jan Sangh will be revivedto rally those who are unhappy with the present situation in the BJP.''

Although informal meetings between old Jan Sangh followers have been going on for sometime, the party plans to hold a national convention in Hyderabad next month to formalise its future plans.

The resurrection of the Jan Sangh, with its committed band of hardliners, could come a major embarrassment for the Vajpayee government, at a time when it has been at considerable pain to distance itself from the controversial issues of the Ram temple, Uniform Civil Code and Article 370 by stressing that they are not part of their national agenda.

Founded in 1952, the Bharatiya Jan Sangh was the original political outfit of the RSS with its ideology centred on Hindutva and as ``nationalist alternative to the Congress''. In the post-Emergency 1977 elections, it merged with the Janata Party, only to break away two years later with the fall of the Morarji government. Most Jan Sangh followers joined hands to form the BJP in 1980 although the partydid not stand abolished and was kept alive in certain pockets by hardline Jan Sanghis.

Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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