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RSS Pratinidhi Sabha starts today, speculation rife about Bhayyaji Joshi being replaced as Sarkaryawah

Pratinidhi Sabha is a meeting of top RSS office-bearers from all over the country, along with several other delegates and heads of all Sangh Parivar organisations.

Written by Vivek Deshpande | Nagpur |
Updated: March 19, 2021 1:21:00 am
RSS newsPratinidhi Sabha is a meeting of top RSS office-bearers from all over the country, along with several other delegates and heads of all Sangh Parivar organisation

As the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) begins its two-day Pratinidhi Sabha meeting at Bengaluru on Friday, the most important outcome to watch would be if the organisation takes the long-awaited decision to usher in a new Sarkaryawah (general secretary).

The sabha is held every year, but the new team is elected after every three years. The Bengaluru meet is the triennial sabha which will elect the new team.

Pratinidhi Sabha is a meeting of top RSS office-bearers from all over the country, along with several other delegates and heads of all Sangh Parivar organisations. This time, a gathering of 450 participants is expected at Bengaluru while many are expected to join online from different parts of the country, adding up to a congregation of about 1,400 people.

The sabha will choose its new team on March 20.

Speculation about the current Sarkaryawah, Suresh ‘Bhayyaji’ Joshi, being replaced by one of his six deputies, Dattatreya Hosbale, has been rife for the past six years. The speculation was most intense in the 2015 Pratinidhi Sabha meeting at Nagpur.

But this time, the triennial Pratinidhi Sabha, which is being held for the first time outside Nagpur due to Covid restrictions, might take the call in favour of change. Hosbale is now 65 and change, if at all, seems more logical at this stage since it would give him at least 10 years to stay at the helm. Moreover, Joshi is now 73 and, although in fine health after knee surgeries, will turn 76 when the next triennial Pratinidhi Sabha takes place to elect the new team.

“Considering the two important events, 2024 general elections and 2025 RSS centenary, a new and younger Sarkaryawah will be required to shoulder the responsibility of organising several programmes in the run-up to the two events. After the RSS spat with Vajpayee-Advani duo during the NDA regime of 1999-2004, where then RSS chief K S Sudarshan had openly called for the two leaders to step down and allow young blood to take over, the RSS, too, had taken a conscious decision to lead by example. Sudarshan had then paved the way for young Mohan Bhagwat to replace him. So, it is expected of the RSS that it would bring about the change of Sarkaryawah now instead of later,” said Dilip Deodhar, a RSS swayamsevak, known for his interpretive writings about RSS and its internal dynamics.

Deodhar added, “Hosbale is currently 65 and will get at least 10 years to serve as Sarkaryawah… his name has been in the reckoning for the position for some time now. He has had his grooming in the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), has served as its organising secretary and has a vast experience as an organiser, which is a very important quality needed for a post like Sarkaryawah, who is the functional head of the organisation supervising its day-to-day activities.”

He said, “Moreover, the RSS also needs to groom someone for the position with a sufficient period at his disposal to carry out the responsibility.”

But a senior functionary of one of the RSS fronts said, “While the possibility of a change cannot be ruled out, I see no reason why the current fine balance among the RSS, BJP and government will be subjected to any change. Bhayyaji is currently coordinating among the three and everything is going on smoothly. Moreover, he is 73 and can go on for at least another three years…”.

Another senior RSS worker also discounted the possibility of Joshi’s replacement. “No such indications have come from anywhere and there doesn’t seem any provocation for it (change) at the this stage,” he said.

Deodhar, however, said, “Joshi’s replacement does not mean demotion. In fact, in the run-up to the two events in 2024 and 2025, it would be too cumbersome for him to continue shouldering the twin responsibilities of coordinating among Parivar organisations and functioning as Sarkaryawah. So, indications are that he would remain at Delhi and would be doing full-time coordination work while Hosbale will take up the responsibility of the twin events.”

According to sources, a section of the RSS doesn’t favour the choice of Hosbale, known for his proximity to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, for the all-important RSS post. It feels that any such move could be seen as BJP having its say in RSS affairs.

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