Tired of the escalating infighting in the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) over the leadership issue, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has decided to take the matter of deciding the next Leader of Opposition (LOP) into its own hands.

According to sources, the Sangh has formed a committee under the leadership of its senior leader Madan Das Devi to select L K Advani’s successor. Other RSS leaders who are in the committee include Shrikant Joshi, Madhubhai, Suresh Soni, and Indresh Kumar.

The need for forming a committee arose after it looked clear that it would be difficult to maintain the unity of the BJP in the current circumstances where various factions were proposing different names for the post of LOP.

Earlier on Sunday, senior RSS leaders met L K Advani in the presence of BJP President Rajnath Singh and inquired about his choice for the post of LOP. Advani is believed to have given the names of Jaswant Singh and Sushma Swaraj, which sources say, are not widely acceptable in the party circles.

It was then decided that Advani would remain as the Leader of Opposition till a consensus is reached on the name of any leader.

Sources told Canary Trap that the present arrangement suits Rajnath Singh. Singh realises that it is impossible for him to hold the position of party president and LOP at the same time.

According to them, Singh wants Advani to remain as the LOP till the end of 2009. Interestingly, his terms as party president also ends during that period. Singh hopes to succeed Advani as the LOP after that.

Advani is the only leader in the BJP who has held the positions of the party president and the Leader of Opposition at the same time.

Meanwhile, party sources told Canary Trap that in such challenging times a senior and experienced leader like Murli Manohar Joshi is the best bet to lead the party in the Lok Sabha. Joshi has held various senior positions in the party organisation, including the post of party president between 1990-1992.

BJP sources say that Joshi is not preferred by either Advani or Rajnath Singh.

While giving an interview to a news channel after the poll debacle, Joshi targeted Rajnath Singh and said that the party’s ticket distribution could have been “better” and it should have had some Muslim candidates.

Joshi did not even spare Advani when he said “If Advaniji says anything he says it in the interest of party members. He is the most experienced leader in the party. This cannot be criticised if he has taken the responsibility for the loss,” said Joshi.

He further added that the veteran BJP leader is setting a good example by expressing his desire to step down from the post of the Leader of Opposition.

The RSS leaders met Advani in the midst of all this infighting. According to party sources, even the RSS thinks that it would be better if Advani retires now than he does after a year or two as that would not give enough time to the new leader to prepare for the next general elections.

Now all eyes are on the RSS committee which will deliberate on all the aspects and decide the name of the leader who will succeed Advani.

Keep tracking Canary Trap for more such information on the ongoing crisis in the ‘party with a difference’.