Politically assertive RSS is need of the hour - 2
by B R Haran on 15 Sep 2009 3 Comments

RSS Chief’s Chennai visit
Just when the trio of Jaswant-Yashwant-Shourie was making matters worse for the party, RSS Sarsanghachalak Mohan Bhagwat made his maiden visit (as RSS Chief) to Chennai. The RSS organized a press meet, wherein he answered a volley of questions. He said, “Though many swayamsevaks are serving as leaders and cadres in BJP, it is an autonomous and independent organization and it has the capacity to solve its problems. It is sad that the party is suffering from internal feuds, but then we are sure that it would come out of the present imbroglio. RSS is a socio-cultural organization and we don’t have any intention of involving in politics. We will not interfere in BJP’s affairs, but if they solicit any advice or suggestions from us, we are ready to give them.” 

The press meet was followed by a massive public meeting where more than five thousand swayamsevaks and an equal number from the general public, totalling over ten thousand people, attended. Addressing the mammoth congregation, Mohanji said, “RSS has been serving for the progress of this nation for more than eighty years. Our Swayamsevaks are groomed well and they are freely serving in many fields for our nation’s progress. While science is progressing on one side, we are also experiencing environmental disorders on the other side. Similarly, while faith in God and spiritual fervour is increasing on one side, we also come across religious conflicts on the other. The world, which recognized ‘Body’, ‘Mind’ and ‘Intellect’, failed to recognize ‘Dharma’, which is present only in our nation. That very same Dharma, which teaches us humanity and brotherhood, is ‘Hindutva’. This Hinduness of our nation only can create equality and brotherhood in this world and the world also expects the same. We must teach the world how to live a life of austerity and simplicity”. 

Shri Bhagwat said, “The rest of the world believes that unity is possible only in uniformity, but we are showing them what is unity in diversity! This unity in diversity has been possible only because of our ‘Hinduness.’ We recognize and respect all individual identities, unite them to form one larger identity for us and the inbuilt Hinduness has helped us to form this core identity. We have a tradition and that is this Hinduness. Those territories like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, which have moved away from us and our tradition, have become regions of permanent strife and lost peace, mainly because of the fact that they have lost the ‘Hinduness’. All territories, which have lost their Hinduness have been suffering and they make us also suffer. Sanatana Dharma is our Mantra. We cannot form a Dharmic society with mere leaders and slogans. Self preserving Hindu Dharma is needed. It has to be protected and for that we have to make the common man qualified and organized, leading to emancipation.”

Mohanji added, “RSS has been operating with this core objective. We are an apolitical organization focusing on strengthening society and its cultural heritage. We don’t want to participate in the present day politics, which is going on with greed for power. We want divisiveness and discrimination to go; we don’t believe in caste, creed and language differences. Hindustan, Bharat, India, all denote only ‘Hindu’ and that is our national identity and this identity will certainly make us the world leader.” Finally, he gave a clarion call to the youth to join RSS, enjoy the working atmosphere from inside, know it completely and serve the nation.   

RSS’ suggestions and BJP’s problems

On reaching Delhi from Chennai, Mohanji gave an interview which was telecast live by ‘Times Now’ television channel. In course of the interview, he again said, “BJP is an autonomous and independent organization. Sangha will not interfere in its day-to-day affairs. We are concerned about the internal feuds going on in the party, but we feel that BJP has the strength and capacity to solve its problems. As far as Sangha is concerned, 55 to 65 years is the age limit for the post of president and other senior positions. BJP has to decide its leadership change. If they solicit any suggestions or advice from us we will give. Sangha has talent in abundance and it can choose even 75 leaders. We hope that BJP would stay united and solve all its problems after thorough discussion in the forthcoming Chintan Baithak and come back as a totally rejuvenated party.” He clearly conveyed RSS’ expectations to the BJP through that interview. 

Unfortunately, the two-day Chintan Baithak indicated that the party would not heed Mohanji. Had it taken his views seriously, it would have analysed the reasons for its electoral defeat; called Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and discussed their grievances; it would not have handled the Jaswant Singh issue in such a manner; and it would have finalized a roadmap for the next five years. Nothing happened except the expulsion of Jaswant Singh!

Even after returning from Shimla, the BJP leadership showed no signs of reconciliation. So Arun Shourie voiced his grievances through the media along with a severe criticism of the party leadership; Jaswant Singh continued his tirade against the party, the RSS and Mr. Advani; Yashwant Sinha talked again; Sudheendra Kulkarni, the man responsible for Advani’s downfall, quit the party with the utmost satisfaction of completing his mission successfully; and former NSA Brajesh Mishra (who played Kulkarni to Vajpayee) embarrassed Advani on Kandahar; all in all, a torrid time for the BJP.

An upset RSS convened yet another press conference, the best attended in recent times. Mohanji handled questions with ease and finesse, earning media appreciation. He stood by statements made in the ‘Times Now’ interview and reiterated what he said in Chennai. He added, “All like minded people should work together for the country’s progress; we should all unite and work without letting our personal differences taking precedence. Sangh will focus on taking its good work forward and continue serving this nation. RSS does not advise BJP in matters of governance and we are always ready to give our advice and support. We also believe it will tide over the crisis and come back stronger.”

Following the press conference, many BJP leaders met Mohanji for discussions, including Advani. The timely action by the RSS Chief checked BJP leaders and made them to realize the gravity of the situation. 

Mohanji’s arrival and resurgence of Sangha 

Mohan ji’s elevation as Sarsanghachalak could not have happened at a more appropriate time. His arrival at the helm of affairs has been a source of strength to the demoralized BJP cadres and worried swayamsevaks and concerned supporters from the general public. Though he took the mantle only in March, just two months before the general elections, the way he has conducted himself has been highly motivating for Sangh organizations. His clear thoughts, sharp understanding, measured talk, planned moves, meticulous handling of the media, maintaining correct distance from the BJP while simultaneously supporting it with necessary advice to bring the crisis under control, have all the mark of a real leader.  

Mohanji’s involvement is expected to usher the necessary changes in the party leadership and give opportunities to youngsters. At the same time, senior leaders could be placed in strategic positions as guiding forces. As Rajnath Singh’s tenure ends in December, a younger leader seems likely to replace him as a consensual choice. Some state-level leaders could move to Delhi. As part of his consensus-building exercise, Mohanji significantly called upon the ailing Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a move which would have reassured the devotees of the former Prime Minister. Not surprisingly, this raised hopes in many quarters of a total makeover of the saffron party.

Although Advani was also expected to resign from the post of Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, and function as party patriarch, there are small but disturbing indications that he may not quit before the next session of Parliament, but will continue under pressure from his coterie, which he seems disinclined to resist! From an initial October resignation, his media aides have again politely shifted his exit to coincide with the end of Rajnath Singh’s tenure – something RSS had specifically delinked!

And now a former aide, who hastily quit the party thinking it was over, has hinted at some kind of homecoming, with an article titled “Advani will prove his obituary-writers wrong” (The Indian Express, 13 September 2009). It asserts that Advani will not exit in the near future. This is a challenge Mohanji will have to face sooner rather than later. The feedback that reaches his ears as Advani undertakes his nation-wide tour to interact with party cadre will be crucial in this regard.

Responsibilities of RSS

The 2009 election results have lessons not only for the BJP, but also for the RSS. Hitherto, and particularly in the last decade, the RSS left the political spectrum completely to the BJP, which proved to be a costly mistake. The larger than life image of Vajpayee and Advani and the immense respect they commanded might have held the RSS in thrall. But the two leaders erred in not giving the requisite attention to the Sarsanghachalak.

As there are many leaders and cadres in BJP without a Sangh background, they may not have realized the importance of the RSS. The prominence given to and gained by people without an RSS background did not work to the advantage of either the BJP or the RSS, as evidenced in the defeats of 2004 and 2009. The party has also lost some capable leaders with a large support base such as Uma Bharati, Kalyan Singh and others. The BJP also earned the wrath of some senior VHP leaders, who were in turn disliked by some BJP leaders. They locked horns even during elections, to the detriment of the Hindu Samaj. 

Obviously the entire Sangh must retrospect over the events of the last decade and come out with a concrete and combined plan of action, abjuring the mistakes of the past. While serving in their respective fields, all organizations must come together whenever the nation faces a challenge or crisis. The RSS should maintain constant touch with religious and spiritual organizations and leaders, seeking their guidance and keeping them informed of social, cultural and political developments. Unity is the need of the hour and it is imperative that all Hindu organizations show a united face and emphasise the importance of unity. It is therefore imperative that RSS focus on politics also, to keep BJP in check and guide it properly.

In India, no emperor had ruled alone; kings have always acted with advise from capable ministers. There was always an Acharya behind a successful Chakravartin, viz., Chanakya behind Chandra Gupta. Every dynasty had a reigning Guru; Vasishta was guide to Dasratha and Sri Rama. In India’s timeless tradition, religion, culture and politics are interconnected - this tradition may be construed as “Hindutva”.

Mohanji understands this and that is good news. The vital issue clarified by him was that those born and raised on this soil share the common identity of Hindutva.  

At Chennai, Mohanji said, “Ours is a cultural organization and our objective is to make society progress with the Hindu identity based on the concept of Hindutva. Bharat could become the world leader only through this concept. We are not a political organization and we would not involve in day-to-day politics. But, whenever the government or the parliament takes an important decision with regard to the nation’s progress, we would certainly influence the political arena in the interests of the nation and force parliament to make the necessary and required decision.”

RSS keeping a watch on the BJP and BJP acting as per the advice of the RSS will be good, not only for the RSS and the BJP, but for the entire nation.
The author is a senior journalist; he lives in Chennai 

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