It wasn’t without reason that Sushma Swaraj, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, on a visit to Haridwar, told the waiting media contingent, “I am here to see Baba Ramdev only in the capacity of a Leader of the Opposition. Where the government fails, I must step in.” Now, party sources confirm that her visit to the baba’s ashram “must not be seen as BJP’s endorsement of him, but instead as course correction for her own actions at the Rajghat last week”. Sushma had come under fire from the RSS for her impromptu dance at a one-day token satyagraha at Rajghat the party had held on June 5, protesting police atrocities on people at the baba’s satyagraha at the Ramlila grounds in Delhi a day before.
Party watchers confirm that the worst blow for the BJP comes in the form of the tightening of the RSS’s grip on the BJP. Says a party leader, “It’s the return of the RSS stranglehold. So far, the BJP seemed to be determining its own politics and course. With the RSS throwing its weight behind Ramdev, forcing the BJP to toe its line on the issue, the independence that the BJP enjoyed in political decisions has ended.”
In fact, sources in the RSS confirm that “over the last six months, seeing the BJP’s failure to garner support even over issues like price rise and corruption, the Sangh had made it amply clear to the party that it would now have to follow the Sangh’s agenda”. The RSS has clearly dictated terms to the BJP on what position to take in the Ramdev campaign, and then again in the reinduction of Uma Bharati into the party. The assertion is so emphatic this time that party president Nitin Gadkari, who was so far dilly-dallying on Uma’s return to the party, had to dash off to Nagpur for the night after the first day of the BJP’s national executive held in Lucknow last weekend. He had been summoned by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to discuss Uma’s return to the party. As the slugfest over Ramdev (many in the BJP were not keen to back the yoga guru’s campaign) continues, it’s the BJP that seems to have lost out the most.