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HVK Archives: Saraswati Vandana is Advani's plank on unsteady turf

Saraswati Vandana is Advani's plank on unsteady turf - The Economic Times

Political Bureau ()
October 29, 1998

Title: Saraswati Vandana is Advani's plank on unsteady turf
Author: Political Bureau
Publication: The Economic Times
Date: October 29, 1998

THE Bharatiya Janata Party seems set to make the controversy
over Saraswati Vandana, which broke out at a recent meeting of
state education ministers, a poll issue with Union Home Minister
L K Advani attacking the party's main rival, the Congress(I) on
the issue.

Striking an offensive note on the matter, which saw even the
BJP's allies joining hands with the Opposition to attack the HRD
ministry's alleged bid to communalise school curriculum, Mr
Advani said the stand taken by the Congress (I) was similar to
that of the Muslim League before Independence when it did not
want Vande Mataram to be made the National Song or National
Anthem.

"The charges that used to be made against the Congress (I)
before Independence are being hurled against the BJP today," he
said. Mr Advani who was talking to a private television channel,
said that the Saraswati Vandana was not a symbol of any
community or party, but reflected the culture of the entire
country.

Mr Advani, who in the course of interview blamed the Opposition
for its votebank-based politics, attacked the Congress (I)
within 24 hours of Ms Sonia Gandhi's criticism of the BJP for
"communalising education.

Ms Gandhi's statements came when she kicked off the
"Congress(I)'s assembly poll campaign at Bikaner in Rajasthan.
Mr Advani's retaliation clearly sets the stage for a
confrontation between the two sides.

Significantly, Mr Advani, in the interview, chose to blame the
politics of vote bank for the ISI's success in spreading its
tentacles in India and also for the repeal of the Terrorist And
Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act.

Mr Advani's aggression seems curious if seen against the
backdrop of the spiralling price rise, which seem to be making
it difficult for the BJP to mobilise support in Rajasthan and
Delhi.

The increase in the prices of essential goods at a time when the
government has already failed to make onions any cheaper, is
certainly causing concern to the party.

This very concern for the party's prospects was manifested today
by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, when he made yet another
attempt to sort out the factional disputes among party heavy-
weights here. Mr Vajpayee, along with Mr Advani, tried to
persuade Mr Madan Lal Khurana, Union parliamentary affairs
minister, to ensure unity in the ranks.

The parliamentary affairs, minister has made his resentment
clear about the importance given to his rival, Sahib Singh
Verma, by the party leadership, in their efforts to compensate
Verma for losing the chief ministership of Delhi.


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