Indian Express

Why the Sangh fears Modi

The RSS acknowledges Modi’s indispensibility to the BJP’s bid for power. But it is uneasy with his personality cult. Tweet This
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Narendra Modi Narendra Modi

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s advisory, in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls, to the organisation’s cadres to stay detached from party politics, especially from any personality-driven campaigns by its associate, the BJP, reveals interesting aspects of the two organisations and their relationship. It highlights the long-established and accepted style of working of the RSS, which was chosen for it by its second sarsanghchalak M.S.Golwalkar, who took up its leadership in 1940. The emphasis on sadhutva or life of renunciation in the organisation was his contribution.

He was unequivocal that the RSS should stay away from political power and that Hindu national reconstruction could be carried out more effectively outside the arena of politics and away from the public glare.

The RSS thus chose to work in the “cultural” realm in a goal-oriented rather than personality-driven way. The constitution of the RSS, which was drawn under Golwalkar’s leadership after the first ban on the organisation was lifted, said that the RSS “has no politics” and is devoted to “purely cultural work”. Political limelight was sought to be avoided also because of the notoriety the RSS had acquired after Mahatama Gandhi’s assassination.

A way to avoid more adverse publicity was to remain outside the public arena. It was, however, made clear that individual swayamsevaks could join and work for political parties if they so wished. Interestingly, the RSS began playing a decisive role in the functioning of the BJP right from its initial years (when it began as the Bharatiya Jan Sangh). The goal of “Hindu” nationhood had brought the two together.

The RSS leadership had made it clear at the  beginning that it had no intentions of playing second fiddle to any political party. The RSS provided the much-needed organisational, financial and cadre support to the fledgling party to take on the mammoth Congress. This set the tone for the way their relationship was built in the coming years. The BJP became a part of the Sangh Parivar, and the RSS’s political front.

Bhai Mahavir, Balraj Madhok, and Deendayal Upadhyay were some of the early stalwarts who had come from the RSS to work for the new party. They were followed a little later by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K.Advani. Thereafter, the young Govindacharya, Sushil Modi, Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley and the late Pramod Mahajan were inducted into the party. The influence these and other RSS pracharaks wielded in the BJP is now well known.

But the tendency was to keep RSS involvement in party work under wraps; there was reluctance on both sides to acknowledge the active and decisive position the RSS had in the party’s organisation and functioning. This propensity to hide this association  changed somewhat in the early 1990s, when significant political transformations happened.

The RSS sees itself and wants to be seen as an ascetic and austere organisation detached from worldly affairs. Its self-image is of an organisation that is rooted firmly in Hindu traditions but above the continued…

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