The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has decided to bring in sweeping changes in the leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that would see veteran leader L.K. Advani and party president Rajnath Singh step down from their posts, RSS sources said Saturday.
The expected upheaval is meant to bring an immediate end to the ugly internecine fighting in the BJP and to ensure it does not deviate from its known ideology "for the sake of power", the sources told IANS.
"Those facing exit from their present positions in the coming days will include Advani, Rajnath Singh and many of the existing party functionaries at the national level," a reliable source said, soon after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat met Advani at the RSS headquarters here Saturday afternoon.
"Advani will have to go (as leader of the opposition). Who will replace him is not yet decided. The message has been conveyed in no uncertain terms. Now it is for Advani and other leaders to decide the modalities of his exit," said the RSS source on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
The sources also confirmed that the organization was not happy with the way Rajnath Singh has handled the infighting in the main opposition party, inviting public ridicule.
So, after Advani, next on the block would be Rajnath Singh.
"We haven't yet decided who all will be at the helm of the affairs. But change is imminent. We have indicated to the party brass, the sooner they do it, the better it is," said the RSS functionary.
"The roadmap for BJP's growth is to be chalked out by the party but a new leadership will do it. We will not interfere in the day-to-day affairs of the BJP," said another RSS leader closely associated with the recent developments.
He added: "The RSS had told the BJP even before all these controversies erupted that they should strengthen the organization and focus more at the grassroots level. If they need any support, we would help them."
The BJP was already in crisis after suffering a stinging defeat in the April-May Lok Sabha elections.
The problems got precipitated after veteran MP Jaswant Singh was summarily expelled from the party for praising Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah and criticizing Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in a book authored by him in the context of India's 1947 partition.
Then another senior MP and former cabinet minister, Arun Shourie, called the BJP a "kati patang" (adrift kite) and urged the RSS to take charge of the party.
And Jaswant Singh's assertion that Advani was in know of the BJP-led government's decision to release three jailed terrorists in exchange for the passengers of an Indian Airlines plane hijacked to Afghanistan in December 1999 opened a can of worms.
Advani has in the past repeatedly said that he was not aware that the terrorists were to be freed. Yashwant Sinha, another BJP leader, as well as Brajesh Mishra, the then National Security Adviser, also backed Jaswant Singh's version. Advani has not responded to any of the charges.