Updated: March 21, 2021 4:38:23 am
The reshuffle in the top echelons of the RSS at the annual Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha in Bengaluru Saturday infuses new voices in influential positions and signals deepening of the political connect between the Sangh and the BJP.
As the new general secretary or sarkaryawah and the effective No. 2, Dattatreya Hosabale, 67, who joined the RSS in 1968, is the first in the post who has worked for almost three decades in any frontal organisation – in his case, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
Since ABVP contests elections, Hosabale’s experience attunes him with the electoral imperatives of the BJP.Also, as sarkaryawah – he is the second from Karnataka in this post since H V Seshadri – he can tap into his extensive ABVP network of senior BJP leaders across the country. As a sah-sarkaryawah so far, Hosabale was based in Lucknow closely looking after BJP-RSS coordination.
Hosabale, detained for a year during the Emergency, has an MA in English Literature from Bengaluru University and is fluent in Kannada, Hindi, English, Tamil and Sanskrit. A senior leader who knows him for long said he is considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi but has a “mind of his own,” and it will be “wrong to assume that he will follow the establishment thinking without scrutiny.”
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This assumes significance given the way ahead: the Modi government has “delivered” on two of the RSS’s three key demands of Ram Temple, Article 370 and a uniform civil code. As the party eyes power in West Bengal and Assam and with UP going to polls next year, the relationship between the two is more important than ever.
For the RSS, too, the he reshuffle comes as it begins preparations for its centenary celebrations in 2025, one year after the next Lok Sabha elections. In his book, The RSS Roadmap for the 21st Century, Sunil Ambekar, another pracharak who returned from ABVP to RSS, and who was elevated as Prachar Pramukh Saturday, wrote: “What will be the state of our nation in 2047 (centenary of Independence)? … Sangh would become indistinguishable from Indian society.”
Suresh Soni, the influential joint general secretary who persuaded the RSS to throw its weight behind Narendra Modi ahead of 2014 elections — despite objections from some party elders — has been eased out. His presence was a source of solid support to the Modi-Shah leadership.
However, his departure is unlikely to make much difference as he had withdrawn from active responsibilities after the 2014 elections keeping a distance from BJP affairs.
Arun Kumar, who was Prachar Pramukh, was elevated as joint general secretary. He is also considered to be another “independent” Sangh ideologue.
Ram Dutt Chakradhar’s elevation as one of the five joint general secretaries, is being seen as ensuring OBC representation in the leadership team after the exit of V Bhagaiah.
BJP leader Ram Madhav’s return to the RSS holds significance for him given that under the leadership of J P Nadda, he didn’t have a clearly defined role in the party. His re-entry is also important given that other RSS pracharaks, divested of responsibilities in the BJP, like Govindacharya and Sanjay Joshi, were not able to return. So Madhav gets to keep his future options open.
“Since the Modi government came to power, the index of unity in the Sangh Parivar has risen sharply. The RSS is no more the Big Brother whose orders must be followed. But this is not to be seen as weakening of the RSS,” said swayamsevak Dilip Deodhar. “Hosabale’s elevation as Sarkaryavah is an indicator of the parity that the new RSS leadership has achieved with BJP and others. The era of harmony between the main structure (mass organisation) and superstructure (RSS) has well and truly been established,” he said.
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