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Why RSS has chosen to remind Modi-Shah of its key role in BJP’s big election wins

Manmohan Vaidya’s remark at an RSS conclave evokes a sense of deja vu. Remember Mohan Bhagwat saying 2014 election win ‘wasn’t about one man’?

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There is more to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s decision to recall Ram Lal — on deputation in the Bharatiya Janata Party as national general secretary (Organisation) — than meets the eye.

He was there for over a decade and enjoyed a very good rapport with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. The decision to replace him with B.L. Santosh has come at a time when the party is in the process of electing a new president. If insiders are to be believed, the line between the RSS and the BJP was getting increasingly blurred under Ram Lal’s watch, with the party’s electoral compulsions taking precedence over the Sangh’s ideology. The BJP’s ideological fountainhead wanted this line to be more distinct. Santosh is known to be an unyielding ideologue who, when he was in Karnataka, minced no words against state BJP president B.S. Yeddyurappa’s questionable ways and means in his pursuit of power.

The BJP couldn’t have missed the message in Ram Lal’s recall by the Sangh. But it should be equally mindful of the other messages coming from the Vijayawada conclave of prant pracharaks, or full-time RSS workers from states, who met for three days last week. Their deliberations in the Andhra Pradesh city give rise to a big question: by giving the entire credit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the 2019 Lok Sabha election victory, is the BJP ignoring the RSS’ contributions?

The answer is yes if one were to hear what the Sangh wanted to convey. On Saturday, RSS sah sarkaryavah or joint general secretary Manmohan Vaidya told reporters that during the Lok Sabha elections, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had given a call for 100 per cent voting. “To increase voting percentage and make voters aware about voting on the basis of national issues, the Sangh’s swayamsevaks (volunteers), too, were involved in jan jagran abhiyan (public awareness mission).”


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“The swayamsevaks made house-to-house contacts and held small meetings. The swayamsevaks made contacts in 4.5 lakh out of 5.5 lakh villages in the country. The swayamsevaks reached 50,000 out of 56,000 mandals (in the country) as per the Sangh’s organisational structure. Eleven lakh swayamsevaks and brothers-sisters of the society got involved in the public awareness mission…,” said Vaidya.

Read between the lines. The message is unmistakable. The RSS was detailing its contributions to election results — it deployed over a million volunteers in almost every nook and cranny of the country to tell voters about “national issues”. Now that’s only as far as a “social and cultural” organisation could go. The RSS has repeatedly asserted that it has nothing to do with politics.

BJP credits Modi for wins but RSS feels differently

What makes Vaidya’s statement so significant? It came on the concluding day of the first major meeting of the RSS after the Lok Sabha elections. The Sangh has been consistent in not giving any one person the credit for an election victory. On 23 May, when BJP leaders were frantically trying to outdo one another in crediting Prime Minister Narendra Modi for getting the BJP a renewed mandate, RSS general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi issued a tepid statement: “Crores of people of Bharat are fortunate to once again have a stable government. This is the triumph of the national forces. Many compliments to each and everyone who have contributed to this victory of democracy….” The Sangh was obviously not taken in by BJP leaders’ hero-worship.

It was no different in 2014. When both BJP and opposition leaders were unanimously crediting a ‘Modi wave’ for the BJP’s unprecedented electoral success, the RSS chief chose to set the record straight, attributing it to ‘the common man wanting change’ and not to ‘some individuals’.


Also Read: V Satish likely to replace BJP general secretary Ramlal who returns to RSS


It’s another matter that Modi, formerly a full-time RSS pracharak, didn’t share Mohan Bhagwat’s views. In an interview to Lance Price, British author of The Modi Effect: Inside Narendra Modi’s Campaign to Transform India, the Prime Minister said that the people were chanting for “a trusted name, not a party name” and that people believed that “Modi was the only hope and wanted to see him win.” The book that contained the Prime Minister’s interview was released in 2015.

RSS-BJP equations better now than during Vajpayee rule 

It’s nobody’s argument that the RSS and the BJP are at loggerheads. No, definitely not. With an RSS pracharak at the helm in the government and a former leader of its students’ wing, the ABVP, heading the party, the Sangh couldn’t wish for more. It has its volunteers posted in every minister’s office and its activists holding most of the ministerial positions.

In his Vijaydashmi speech last year, Mohan Bhagwat lamented how time was running out for the new education policy. And, hey presto, the draft policy document is presented to the new human resource development minister the day he takes charge. Right after the BJP-led government had taken over in 2014, it wanted to push labour reforms. The labour ministry started the process of amalgamating 44 central labour laws into four codes to be approved by Parliament. The moment the RSS objected, these codes were put on the back-burner.

The RSS imprint is everywhere in the government — in all its words and actions. The relations between the BJP and the RSS are far better than what it was during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s regime. The coordination between the two is also seamless.


Also Read: RSS enters history syllabus, Nagpur University to teach role it played before 1947


Timing of RSS message

Yet, the RSS’s decision to highlight its contributions to the BJP’s victory — as suggested in Manmohan Vaidya’s unambiguous statement — is significant. It’s the Sangh’s way of reiterating that the election verdict is not about an individual, but about a larger cause. Who would understand the RSS’ point of view better than Modi? The Sangh’s message, many insiders believe, is meant for the burgeoning tribe of rootless-yet-powerful BJP leaders who try to be more loyal than the king.

The message from Vijayawada has come as Modi government is taking a fresh guard, expressing willingness to bite the reforms bullet, including in the labour sector. It has come at a time when the BJP has got an aura of invincibility and an impression has been created that the RSS is feeding on the BJP and not the other way round.

It may probably also be the Sangh’s way of reminding its ideological protégé that it’s time for the fulfilment of the core agenda — the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya. Bhagwat had reignited the debate on the issue last September, saying that he wanted the temple “very soon”.

The RSS’ annual report presented at the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha in Gwalior on 8 March this year was critical of the Supreme Court for not expediting a decision on the Ayodhya land dispute case. “That the Supreme Court should find no priority for this sensitive subject associated with deep faith of Hindu society is beyond understanding. We are experiencing that Hindus are constantly being neglected,” it said.

With a former pracharak as the Prime Minister, the RSS has been playing along with the BJP and has been mindful of its political compulsions. The BJP has also reciprocated, accommodating the RSS’ concerns and interests — but, obviously, not enough.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. BJP government won 305 + seats in 2019 to do CERTAIN JOBS FIRST – Let it begin and bring justice to crores and crores of aam admi; RSS started acting as if opposition party in parliament. Educated RSS pracharaks includind Mohan Bhagvat ji should be invited to Ministers’ bunglows for Bhajia Party and give them some work – namely, ask how you will solve Ram Mandir Temple issue when it is in Supreme Court… Then, tell Sadhu- Bavas to pressure Judges to expedite (if they can); or shut up. Govt. has so many works to do—which are possible.
    I agree with Narendra Modi ji…. 2019 election won on his name; not Bhagvat ji or BJP’s name. Try on other’s and see what happens (in coming elections).
    India started on good foot, let it work and no jealousy…. other parties will play all kinds of dirty tricks, UPA had collected big funds for that. Looks like, RSS and some BJP dissatisfied elements are for sale again ?? RSS should try to give justice to Sadhvi Pragnya case…. Somebody is putting monkey wrench everywhere. Can it work in NEW INDIA anymore? Let us see. Kanubhai Jadav, P.E

  2. BJP must construct temple ,Remove 370 and 35A as they got majority this time . If these things are not done , people will be highly disappointed and trust with BJP will be totally broken and faith with the party will go away . It will be biggest blunder in the history of BJP and people will understand that BJP fooled them for gaining power. Hope BJP will take not of it .

  3. BJP and RSS is part like two hands of the body. While both are independent, both work in synchronisation and cannot live without the other. While bjp has modi as an charismatic leader, who has mass appealing due many factors, if the party assume that the party has won only because of him, is very wrong.

    If BJP, do not nurture leaders in sequence, like kanchi sankaracharya matt, people will sway from it. It should remember that, public have started accepting bjp due to its organisational setup of different strata of people unlike family oriented and single leadership parties. It should groom and promote strong ethical youths to lead for next generations. The deliberate attempt to weaken Hinduism for so long years has given support and strength to both RSS and BJP. While RSS has ensured at grassroot level, BJP has ensured and must ensure that due respect is given to good and patriotic citizens of other religions. RSS & BJP must interchangingly act like a father and mother for the country – sometime lovingly, sometime strictly, some passionately, without breaking and leading the family(country) to prosperity.

    RSS had tirelessly worked to ensure that BJP come to power. Surely, this trend will be repeated in 2024 also, if citizens problems are addressed immediately and effectively. Kashmir must be integrated with the mainland without bothering about naysayers, so that the prosperity once again come to the lap Kashmir people.

    Most importantly, BJP must use RSS’s big organisational capability to finish lawlessness happening, off-late across the country, whether it is on the road or land grabbing, drug peddling and arson of religious places.

  4. Was there no RSS in 2004 & 2009? L K Advani was also a strong RSS man but lost convincingly. New India is not impressed by RSS ideology. People were impressed by Modi’s commitment to the development of the country and his capacity to fulfil it. RSS was men power supplier. That is why Modi won inspite of RSS baggage. Advani could not shed the image of RSS man and lost.

  5. This is Hindustan n Why should the RSS not prod the present Government. After all the Ram Temple in Ayodha is what every Hindu in the Country wants.

    I was just listening to a Rhodes Scholar, who pointed out how the English have written our History books according to what they want the Indians to perceive. It is sad that a lot of Kings who have been a part of our great country have been left out of our History Books.

    It is time we rewrote the real Contribution made by those Kings n Rulers to our Great Country.

    Let a Historian rewrite our History n let the future generations learn that History in our Text Books, not the Crap that is printed now by the Britishers.

    Bharat Mata Ki Jai.
    Jai Hind

    • First we lived with history that was written by the British and then by the leftists (Marxists in particular). In both cases there was large scale falsification. However, the problem in rewriting a much more accurate and balanced version of history is the lack of historical scholars who are able to do it. In the past, the old style BJP scholars were the type who would make claims like “Taj Mahal was built by Hindus”. These ludicrous claims were a great disservice and were ready fodder for the left to pounce on. In the last 70 years, it wasn’t just that the history was falsified but also all research was slanted. So there are very few scholars who learned alternative perspectives of history. It will take a generation to remedy the situation and to present an alternate perspectives that are backed up by scholarship and research.

  6. The analysis of RSS and BJP is one sided. What about ayaram law makers from other parties inclusion in BJP, nay congress janta party? The tented lawmakers r freely given entry in BJP but also appointed as ministers (recently in goa and earlier in Maharashtra). Is RSS acceptance about this policy leads to a tented BJP?
    First of all RSS is a cultural organization and not a political one. If it wishes to dabble in politics then it has to get registered in election Commission. It can’t just give its persons to a political party officially.

  7. Bhartiya Jansangh (the yester version of BJP) had been created by RSS to fullfil it’s political ambitions. Thus the RSS remains the creater and the created can never boost to become more important than the creater. Giving all the credits for everything to Modi ji too does not undermine the RSS since he himself had been a core Pracharak of the Sangh and later only migrated to BJP. As such, in that Modi ji himself is the representative of RSS in the govt. This is most basic difference between BJP and any other Political Party. Usually Political parties are first formed and the parties float other entities – cultural, educational etc to propagade to achieve it’s political agenda. In case of BJP it is just other way round and opposite. Here, the Party’s agenda is always meant to implement RSS ethos and there can not be any point in BJP’s agenda which would be in contrast to RSS professed ideology. This relationship is most important for BJP and the Party is always reminded of that. So much so that this dual membership issue became the core issue of fall of Janta Party govt and the then Janasangh preferred seeing falling the govt than to compromise on this issue.
    And fact remains that the entire RSS machinery works tirelessly in any election to ensure the party’s victory.
    It even oversees the party’s student, youth, mahila, labour etc wings’ elections. The well spread geography of RSS and it’s ever dedicated cadre has always been very important for the Party for very effective compaigning. It has very deep and dedicated base of intellectuals and it’s cadre is present in almost all institutions – of State and otherwise too. This is an edge for BJP which is now visible to critics everywhere since BJP is in power. Otherwise, RSS members have always been present in state institutions and have been doing their bit to fullfil the ideology to the extent they could. There would always be certain differences between them to the extent of the compulsions of governance and administration but there can never be any difference on the core values and ehics of governance and administration.
    In the face of this, what has happened in Goa or is happening in Karnataka or elsewhere in the country where the BJP has apparently opened its door wide open to welcome anybody from any political party so as to enhance it’s base and grab power – is something requiring deep mental exercise to articulate and analyse to conclude a theory. For, it is unquestionable that the RSS would compromise on its principle or allow BJP to do so. This gives the only analogy the the BJP would only use these infiltrators and would never allow them to enter their inner circles. They would only be welcomed to the extent they remain the arms to achieve their goal.
    One must not loose sight of the fact that Modi ji has been a crude RSS man, who left everything to become it’s Pracharak and dedicated himself for it’s cause. He was never a party ticket seeker too and definitely, he never cherished the dream of occupying the Chair/s of power untill becoming CM. That the fact the power came to embrace him would not dilute his basic built and he would remain loyal to his basic home and innings.
    Atal ji’s position was different. He had his compulsions of coalition having erratic partners like Jaylalitha and Mamata and thus didn’t have the luxury of being seen as a complete RSS man. But he too did often assert his RSS leanings and felt proud doing so.
    Now BJP having successive thumping mandates would perhaps redefine it’s dedication and dependability on RSS ethos and RSS too on its part reevaluate it’s grip over the party, but undoubtedly would remain a guiding force for it.

  8. The anti defections law it self had its own flaw. Speaker is always from ruling party this is the fist flaw there is no time limit for taking a decission this is second flaw third courts cannot interfere is third flaw with out resigning you can defect this fourth and so many who cared

  9. The Print along with copartners like Wire, NDTV, is most disappointed lots on massive victory of BJP under leadership of Modiji, is now busy in weaving the designed stories finding holes in fabricating strained relationship between Modiji & RSS. This is not a new venture. Needless to recall that the a deep rooted bais media had also miserably failed to devide Vajpayee jee and RSS, with no avail. This time they should focus elsewhere to find out effective Opposition. People least ear to such stories.

  10. Under the present circumstances the RSS has been reduced to merely a man power supplier by NM n AS combination. It is a different matter that no political party has delivered what they were supposed to do or expected to do. If this time also a brick if not added to Ram Temple then Hindu should realize that the both organization are making a fool of all Hindus. Considering the legal and political position that is what is going to happen. Then can RSS consider supporting Congress as was the perceptions post emergency and Balasaheb Deora was at the helm of affairs.

  11. BJP Government must have 3 main issues to resolve and complete by enacting laws and constitution amendments.
    1. Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir Construction.
    2. Uniform Civil Code for all Citizens
    3. Annexation of Kashmir
    Water pipelines and gas chulhas are issues any other government will do.But, BJP government is re-elected only on the above 3 issues., which no other political party will do.

  12. The RSS has devoted cadres all over the country. It must receive continuing, high quality feedback about what is happening, things like omen’s safety, general law and order, how households are struggling to protect their consumption basket. Many loyal supporters are traders, small businessmen, who have felt the One two punch of demonetisation and GST. These are issues where the Hindu – Muslim binary is not very salient, but if an economy of a country where 80% of the people are Hindus is in such deep trouble, that too is something the organisation should worry about deeply and convey its concerns and constructive suggestions to both party and government. One Ram temple in Ayodhya will not make India a happy, prosperous, powerful nation.

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