The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) finds itself at the crossroads as a rebel seems to have taken up the banner of revolt to teach the ruling BJP in Goa a lesson. The former RSS Goa chief Subhash Velingkar, who was at loggerheads with the ruling BJP, was shown the door by the RSS. Unfazed, Velingkar has taken the fight to the RSS by floating an independent outfit, the RSS Goa Prant.
At its first meeting in Goa, he elicited huge support from loyal RSS supporters. On the face of it, the developments can be dismissed as differences within the Goa unit of the RSS and BJP which has spilled onto streets. However, the larger question is the failure within the right wing “parivar” to diffuse such differences, essentially an outcome of ego clashes.
Velingkar was upset as the ruling BJP ignored his demand for a withdrawal of grants to English medium schools in Goa. Velingkar, who headed the Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSB), wanted the BJP to promote Marathi and Konkani as the medium of instruction in schools. He believed Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar who remains the unchallenged face of the BJP in Goa, ignored his effort to promote regional languages.
While regional languages appear to be the issue, Velingkar who has played the role of king-maker, has failed to reconcile himself to a secondary role, with BJP leaders taking centre stage in national and state politics.
Now Velingkar may well give the BJP a headache in the coming March 2017 state assembly elections but the RSS has already taken the action and moved ahead. According to BJP-RSS insiders, “In the RSS, there is absolutely no place for rebels. Two things it will never tolerate are disobedience and indiscipline.” Although nobody questions the role of Velingkar in building the organisation in Goa, the RSS cannot accept its swayamsevak’s act of defiance. The RSS and the BJP believe individual ambitious or egos cannot be larger than that of the organisation.
In the coming days, Velingkar is likely to scale up his attacks against the BJP. Already he is meeting anti-BJP groups to plan strategies for the coming polls. This will cause embarrassment to both the RSS and BJP. The BJP reckons it will have to work hard to regain its base. In the last assembly elections it won 21 out of 40 assembly seats in Goa.
The bigger challenge for the BJP is to ensure that RSS supporters loyal to Velingkar do not work covertly with his new RSS Goa Prant. BJP sources said, “The RSS workers will follow the command of their chief. They can never support a rebel who has been sacked with the sanction of the RSS chief.”
There are earlier instances of leaders who dared to defy the organisation and came to grief. A case in point is of the stalwart Balraj Madhokm, a founder member and president of the Jana Sangh who was expelled for his defiance. That is a reminder to one and all in the RSS: individuals cannot cross the laxman rekha.