Thursday, May 3, 2012

Did RSS man end Modi-Advani feud?

Gujarat EDN DNA 30APR2012

RSS leader Suresh Soni is said to have patched up frayed ties between two leaders
Jumana Shah l Ahmedabad
Did Sangh strongman and Sahsarkaryawah Suresh Soni strike a compromise formula between Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and senior BJP leader LK Advani? Power broking in the higher echelons of RSS-BJP is a tricky subject to speculate about but reliable sources say they have reason to believe that the RSS strongman had played a critical role in keeping the BJP flock together.
After a long period of coldness between them, Modi and Advani had met recently in Ahmedabad. BJP sources present at the Advani-Modi ‘reunion’ events in the city said that Modi’s body language was not relaxed as it used to be in happier days. It appeared that the two leaders had put on a show of camaraderie, the sources said.
On March 17, the RSS had announced an expanded body of members. Suresh Bhaiyaji Joshi was re-elected as Sarkaryawah (general secretary) and Soni as Sahsarkaryawah (joint general secretary) - effectively the No. 3 in the RSS after Mohan Bhagwat - at a national conclave in Nagpur. Within three days of this conclave’s conclusion, Advani unexpectedly showered praise on Modi through his blog and came to Ahmedabad to spend a day here.
Now, a little-known fact that may help understand Soni’s role is that Soni traces his roots to Gujarat’s Chuda village in Surendranagar. Sources in the RSS said that though born here, his childhood was spent in Madhya Pradesh as his parents had migrated for business. He has, nevertheless, retained his Gujarati identity and, more importantly, is perceived to be close to Modi, the sources said.
The 62-year-old Soni speaks fluent Gujarati and visits Surendranagar and Ahmedabad at least 2-3 times every year, the sources added.
"He belongs to the Adesara Shrimali Soni community. A closely-related aunt lives in Chuda. Soni visits his native village regularly and several of his cousins live in Ahmedabad. He is a very religious person and regularly performs rituals at the temple in Chuda," the source added.
In the RSS, Soni currently holds the responsibility of liaising with the BJP. He has studied political science and is said to command much political clout, especially in Madhya Pradesh.
There has always been speculation about the RSS controlling the BJP's activity but little concrete information gets out about their secret interaction. Sources however said that Soni is the man to watch in the years to come. It is believed that he has been and will be intricately linked with Modi's political career. Both pracharaks share a love for power and affluent lifestyle.