New Delhi: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has elevated joint general secretary (organisation) B.L. Santhosh as the BJP’s general secretary (organisation) following its decision to recall incumbent Ram Lal, who held the post for 13 years.
Santhosh, a polyglot fluent in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and English, is believed to be one of the main strategists behind the formation of the BJP’s first government in southern India — in Karnataka, in 2008.
An engineer by profession, he is a native of Karnataka.
In the BJP, the post of general secretary (organisation) is considered to be extremely powerful since it serves as a link between the party and its parent, the RSS.
The post has therefore been reserved for senior RSS pracharaks.
The main task of an appointee is to ensure the RSS chief’s instructions are implemented by the BJP leadership. Apart from managing routine work, the appointee has to make sure the BJP is adhering to the RSS’ ideological line, and sends regular reports to the sarsanghchalak in this regard.
Other key tasks include tapping the RSS’ nationwide network of pracharaks to campaign for the BJP during elections, and overseeing the task of organisational expansion while maintaining the façade of being a ‘backroom boy’.
The appointee also conveys the RSS’ feedback to the BJP high command, and vice versa.
V. Satish, a national general secretary of the BJP, was a frontrunner for the post but will now assist Santhosh.
When the general secretary got a BJP chief sacked
The importance of this post can be illustrated by an episode from 2004, when BJP leader L.K. Advani, then the party chief, created a furore with his comments in praise of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.
Following his comments, the RSS ordered that an emergency meeting of BJP leaders be convened, to decide the action to be taken against Advani.
None of the senior BJP leaders present, including the late
BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan, Sushma Swaraj or Arun Jaitley, could summon the courage to pass a resolution condemning their own party president.
However, the general secretary (organisation) at the time, Sanjay Joshi, not only drafted a resolution criticising Advani but also managed to get it passed by the BJP parliamentary board. After returning to Delhi, Advani was forced to resign under RSS pressure.
Incumbent ‘wanted to be relieved of charge’
Unlike the powerful Sanjay Joshi, Ram Lal kept a low profile during his tenure, and managed to work with three BJP presidents – Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah – without any controversy.
This is not the first time that the RSS has called back one of its pracharaks from deputation to the BJP.
However, an RSS pracharak told ThePrint that the only obvious reason behind his recall is that Ram Lal had himself made several requests to Shah over the past two years to be relieved of his duties.