The elevation of Mohan Bhagwat as sarsanghchalak of the RSS in place of K.S. Sudarshan is not the only important aspect of this change of guard. Equally significant is Suresh Joshis appointment as general secretary of the organisation. The post is key in the RSS power structure since the general secretary is in-charge of the organisation on a day-to-day basis and is next in the line of succession. The sarsanghchalak is the titular head who lays down general policy. Suresh Joshi,popularly known as Bhaiya Joshi,is not to be confused with Sanjay Joshi who gained notoriety after a controversial CD surfaced in which he allegedly figured. It was generally assumed that either Madandas Devi or Suresh Soni,the other two joint secretaries,would step into Bhagwats shoes. Both have liaised with the BJP in the past. Soni is extremely close to Rajnath Singh and anti-Modi,while Devi is identified with the anti-Rajnath faction. Joshi,a Maharashtrian like Bhagwat,and lesser known than Devi and Soni,has interacted very little with the BJP and is not considered close to any faction in the party.
The message Bhagwat is keen to send out is that the BJP should be left to handle its own affairs. He is known to disapprove of the BJP president inducting pracharaks to coordinate between the sangh and the BJP state units. Bhagwat believes that exposing pracharaks to the power play of politics and government makes them lose sight of their true objective. Many believe that Dattarraya Hosbale,who has been elevated to a joint secretary,may now be number three in the pecking order.
Mums the word
During the controversy over Varun Gandhis speeches in Pilibhit,his mother Maneka Gandhi,five-time MP from Pilibhit who has now shifted to the neighbouring Aonla constituency,was silent. Maneka studiously kept out of the debate for over ten days because she believed it would be wiser to allow her son to handle the issue on his own. If she had entered it would have appeared as if the son was turning to her for help and demonstrate weakness,whereas she believes that despite his 28 years he is fully capable of handling the fallout on his own. It was only last Thursday that she finally spoke to a regional TV channel on the subject.
While his former comrades are on the campaign trail and busy making speeches on behalf of the CPI (M),Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee who no longer has a party or a parliamentary constituency,is delivering speeches of a different sort. In the last month Chatterjee has been the key speaker at convocations at Delhi University,Puducherry University and Acharya Nagarjuna University in Andhra Pradesh. He has also delivered lectures at the Baby John Memorial Foundation,the Triguna Sena Memorial and the Panampilly Govinda Menon birth centenary celebrations. At his convocation addresses,Chatterjee,encourages young students to join politics.
No home check-ups
The Defence Ministry has turned down a suggestion from the Rashtrapati Bhavan that ECG and X-ray machines be installed in the Presidents official residence. It was explained that since President Pratibha Patils health is the responsibility of the army hospital,it would be preferable if Patil visited the hospitals for her check ups.
Relations between the Maharashtra Congress and the NCP are at an all time low. Although the NCP did not get as many seats as it wanted in the seat-sharing pact,it walked away with better constituencies. Congresspersons are particularly upset that the Delhi high command agreed to part with the Kolhapur and Satara constituencies. These are sure shot wins since the two royal scions who will contest,Sambhaji Raje Bhonsale and Shau Maharaj,were willing to stand from whichever party gave them the ticket. The Maharashtra Congress grumbles that it has no bargaining power since it is looked after by Defence Minister A K Antony,who has barely visited the state in the last six months,Chief Minister Ashok Chavan,who turns to Delhi for guidance,PCC president Manek Rao Thakre,and Working President Jayant Awale,who are political lightweights.