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Sangh Parivar's campaign loses steam

By Venkitesh Ramakrishnan

NEW DELHI, MAY 19. Though leaders of the Sangh Parivar, including the aggressive anti-Sonia Gandhi campaigners such as K.N. Govindacharya and Sushma Swaraj, have said that they are happy with the Congress President's decision to back out of the prime ministership, the debate within the Sangh Parivar on the developments is, surprisingly, not upbeat.

Several Sangh Parivar activists are downcast at the turn of events. Many of them admitted to this correspondent that Ms. Gandhi had, in one stroke, divested them of a major campaign issue that could have benefited the Hindutva combine for a long time.

"The campaign would have created such great impact politically and socially that the Congress and its allies would have been on the defensive for months," said a prominent RSS activist of Lucknow, considered close to several BJP leaders, including the Uttar Pradesh unit president, Vinay Katiyar.

Interestingly, the internal briefing to the Sangh Parivar activists in different parts of north India on the anti-Sonia Rashtriya Swaabhiman Aandolan (national self-respect movement) launched by Mr. Govindacharya, according to information available with this correspondent, has many contradictory shades.

While the ideological thrust of the movement was highlighted as one that militated against "succumbing to foreign interests," it was also stated that the immediate organisational objective was to raise the tempo in such a manner that the leadership of the Congress and its allies compel Ms. Gandhi to become Prime Minister.

It was explained that these leaders would get so incensed by the campaign that they would compel Ms. Gandhi to accept the post, at least to spite the Sangh Parivar.

The briefings stressed not merely the larger social and political issues the campaign would address. There were also references to Ms. Gandhi's administrative inexperience. It was stated that once Ms. Gandhi became Prime Minister, she would find it difficult to handle Parliament and its sessions and all this would come in handy for the campaign.

The Sangh Parivar had also calculated that the theatrical performances of Ms. Swaraj — the threat to resign from the Rajya Sabha, tonsure her head, sleep on the floor, etc., till the "videshi" backed out — would also have a telling impact on the average Hindu mindset.

The perception within the Parivar, till Tuesday evening, when Ms. Gandhi made the firm announcement about renouncing the top administrative position in the country, was that it was well on course to achieving its propaganda objectives.

The internal debates on Wednesday, however, laid emphasis on a wait and watch policy. The consensus was that it should proceed carefully to generate and advance a new socially and politically emotive campaign against the Congress and its president.

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