Mohan Bhagwat: Influencer-in-Chief by Kingshuk Nag- Review

Title: Mohan Bhagwat: Influencer-in-chief

Author: Kingshuk Nag

Publisher: Rupa

Price: Rs. 500

Pages: 206

Kingshuk Nag’s latest book Mohan Bhagwat: Influencer-in-chief tells us how RSS and in particular its chief Mohan Bhagwat influences and keep close watch on the PM Narendra Modi government. The book reveals that Narendra Modi was not Mohan Bhagwat’s first choice for the 2014 elections. Modi was promoted as the BJP’s prime-ministerial candidate by the RSS only after the realization that he was the person in the party who could lead them to victory.

The author’s narrative is that the BJP coasted to power in 2014 only because of the RSS and if it does win in 2019, that too, will be because of the RSS. It means Modi’s future is in the hands of Bhagwat. Since Modi led government came into power in 2014, there is a growing curiosity about RSS among common people. The people who are not connected with the RSS find it difficult to understand how RSS can influence Modi and his government. Is policy making in the government dependent on the diktats of the RSS?  

 “It is said that he (Modi) controls the activities of all ministers through his overpowering omnipresent Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The only minister who has a free hand is Nitin Gadkari,” writes Nag. Gadkari is from Nagpur and close to the RSS’s top leadership. In the background of BJP losing three crucial states – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh – there is already speculation of Nitin Gadkari becoming PM after the general elections of 2019. Eventually, the RSS will prefer Gadkari as ever since Modi came to power, he has kept the RSS at arm’s length.
The RSS has come a long way since it was founded on September 27 1925.

The book highlights what kind of role Mohan Bhagwat played in taking RSS into the remotest villages in the North East of India. His outreach to the policymaking Muslim community is mentioned and one chapter is dedicated to the issue. On November 17 2017, addressing a dharma sansad Bhagwat asserted that “only the mandir will come up on the Ram Janmabhoomi and nothing else. It is not a populist declaration but a matter of our faith. It will not change.” It shows he is a hardliner. The RSS has once again become pro-active on the Ram Mandir issue. They organized rallies in various cities including in Ayodhya and Nagpur on 25th November. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray also independently organized programme in Ayodhya. Even after 25th November RSS is organizing various programmes and mobilised their supporters on the issue of construction of Ram mandir.  Shiv Sena also jumped into the Ram Mandir issue.

For the RSS, victory of the BJP in the coming general elections is necessary to achieve their agenda. At the same time, they know the coming elections will not be as easy as that of 2014. Also, the victory of 2014 cannot be wholly attributed to RSS and Bhagwat. The popularity of Modi was at its peak and people were influenced by the “Gujarat model of development.” Similarly, voters were against Congress because of corruption charges.  So, there were multiple reasons for the victory of Modi.  

 The book focuses on Bhagwat and his strategies. The book is rich in detail. 

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