RSS Moves A Trailer, Real Show To Come

RSS Moves A Trailer, Real Show To Come

Neelu VyasUpdated: Monday, June 17, 2024, 09:49 AM IST
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Is the Sangh parivar imploding from within? Or is it holding out a red herring? That’s a question many have been asking ever since Mohan Bhagwat, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s sarsanghchalak, remarked on “a lack of decorum” during the election campaign, and hinted at the glaring failure of the Union government to contain the continuing conflict in Manipur.

Bhagwat aimed his remarks at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose coarse Islamophobhia generated great controversy, diverting attention from the more ideological issues of the Sangh parivar. Modi used pejorative references like “those who have more children” and “infiltrators” for Muslims, while causing much bitterness over his repeated use of terms like “mujra”, or “mangalsutra” and “buffalo thieves” for the opposition alliance.

The RSS maintained a stoic silence during the campaign, even as reports emerged that its pracharaks showed little inclination to mobilise voters. Obviously RSS workers sensed the anti incumbency. Immediately after the BJP fell short of majority, critical voices emerged, Bhagwat leading. He said that “maryada” (dignity) and “saiyam” (restraint) were not shown in the campaign, even as many within the RSS tried to indicate that his comments were not directed only at Modi and the central leadership of the BJP.

Bhagwat even said that RSS doesn’t consider the opposition as a “virodhi” (enemy) but a “pratipaksh“ (counterpoint), in a rare show of support for a democratic political culture. He also spoke about how only a leader without ego has the right to be called a “sevak” (public servant), in a possible dig at Modi who has described himself the pradhan sevak, instead of pradhan mantri.

Top RSS leaders like Indresh Kumar said that Lord Ram stopped an “arrogant” party that claims to be “Ram Bhakt” from attaining a majority in the Lok Sabha. Ratan Sharda, a Sangh ideologue, wrote in the Organiser that the electoral outcome was a “reality check” for overconfident BJP workers. Sharda distanced the RSS from the BJP saying that the organisation was not a “field force” for the latter, while claiming that the BJP leadership did not reach out to RSS swayamsevaks to seek their cooperation in electoral work. He added that elections were not won on social media.

Ram Madhav too struck a critical tone, saying India has again slipped into the cauldron of coalition politics, which will need “humility and civility, qualities that the Indian polity is in dire need of”.

Senior BJP leader and former vicepresident of India M.Venkaiah Naidu, too, spoke about how the electoral outcome was a message for all who thought money could win elections, even as concerns of the downtrodden are ignored. These remarks are a symptom of side stepping of the consultative mechanism between BJP & RSS . Previously RSS was instrumental in such consultations, and therefore has accumulated enough reasons to be aggrieved, and seems to have chosen this moment when the Modi-Shah duo is at its weakest to lay down its concerns.

The RSS chief has criticised the prime minister for the first time in 10 years, for conducting a campaign that was full of lies and lacked decorum. That is a very charged statement but in effect Bhagwat reiterated what he said after the 2014 elections. Then, he had criticised the BJP leaders for advocating a Congress-mukt Bharat.

In all these ten years RSS has not been able to gather courage to speak and now they have begun to assert themselves so that they don't descend into oblivion. It will be a balancing act so that they don't appear as disruptors for the simple reason that the parent cannot dissociate itself from its offspring.

On condition of anonymity a BJP leader in Delhi says RSS enjoyed power and they kept quiet for ten years on all the issues but now they don't want to be held accountable in the eyes of the people." So is RSS trying to maintain a moral high ground?, It does look like it.

So will all this lead to a situation where RSS will assert itself more bring in its own hand picked BJP President and gradually defang Modi? This is just a trailer; the real story is yet to play out.

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