May 25, 2016

India: WIth Modi in Power What the RSS gained - Excerpts from Panini Anand's article in Catch News

Catch News

If Narendra Modi has managed to bring Achhe Din for someone, it's the RSS
Panini Anand @paninianand | 24 May 2016, 21:21 IST

On 26 May, 2014, Narendra Modi was sworn in as India's Prime Minister, having won a resounding mandate in the Lok Sabha elections. Two years later, has Modi managed to deliver on the promises that made people vote him to power?

There was a significant upheaval within the RSS in the run-up to Narendra Modi being declared as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate in 2013.

A faction believed that Modi's self-centred and over ambitious nature was not compatible with the RSS' style of functioning, where organisation always takes precedence. Another section felt that capturing power is essential, even if it means riding on Modi's mass appeal.

In the end the RSS did throw its weight behind Modi and the 2014 victory was a product of Modi's charisma as well as the disciplined support provided by the RSS.

Also read -Modi@2: 24 months, 24 controversies that have caught the public eye

The unprecedented victory elevated Modi to new heights. Not only the government, even the party was now under his command. Party elders had nowhere to go. His position was further strengthened by victories in the Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly elections.

Under his leadership, the party reached the corridors of power in Jammu and Kashmir for the first time in history. In the party, his position became supreme.

Sangh's agenda

However, the Sangh Parivar was quietly following Modi with its own agenda. For the Sangh, power is not an end in itself. It is a means to implement its cultural agenda. And Modi was a means to capture power.

The Sangh Parivar adopted a two-pronged strategy. Firstly, it continued pursuing its agenda at its own level. Secondly, it pushed Modi and his government to promote the Sangh and its policies. The task of co-ordination between BJP and RSS was given to senior Sangh functionary Dr Krishna Gopal. Ram Madhav was relieved from the RSS and sent to the BJP.
"The task of co-ordination between BJP and RSS was given to senior RSS functionary Krishna Gopal"

This approach was fraught with political risks. However, Modi knew that he needed RSS support to keep detractors at bay. Therefore, he tried his best to keep RSS leaders in good humour by calibrating his policies. This proved to be beneficial as he still enjoys a strong position within the party, despite growing dissent. This is only because RSS has no problems with him.

Sangh has been the biggest beneficiary of Modi's rule. Both Modi and RSS complement each other. This is the reason both sides have chosen to ignore minor differences.

"Modi has listened to the Sangh so far. He has refrained from saying anything. The Prime Minister is well aware that he will not find such level of commitment and discipline anywhere else. The Sangh is following its own agenda. A favourable government at the centre makes it slightly easier. But we are not dependent on the establishment. We continue our mission of cultural awakening and reforms," explains a senior RSS leader.

Modi has managed to keep RSS under check through his performance and image management.

"Have you ever seen any other Indian leader visiting temples during every foreign visit or donning tilak on his forehead? We have not seen that even during the previous BJP government. This appeals to the RSS as well as Hindutva activists," opines a senior party leader.

What the RSS gained

RSS and its affiliated organisations are relentlessly moving forward with their agenda. BJP leaders seem to be adding to their voice. RSS has reaped gains on many fronts.

Today beef is banned in a state like Maharashtra where it had been a part of the kitchens of many communities and sects. The Dadri lynching and the murder of two cattle traders in Latehar shows the kind of frenzy the cow protection issue can unleash. Cow protection committees are sprouting at the local level in many states and they are helping propagate the RSS' 'save the cow' message.

Not just this, the RSS' sister organisations are providing arms training to Hindu hardliners in the name of self-defence. But the government and security agencies are not ready to see or comment on this.

Educational institutions considered citadels of the Left and progressive forces are under attack. Jawaharlal Nehru University and Hyderabad Central University are the most obvious examples but they are not the only institutions the RSS is targetting. IITs, IIMs, universities like Aligarh Muslim University, Allahabad University and Jadavpur University are also in the saffron radar. Progressive individuals are being painted as anti-national and their loyalty to nation is being questioned. Patriotism is being equated with slogans like Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata Ki Jai.

The school curriculum is being changed according to the choice and ideology of the RSS. The government is promoting Sanskrit as well as Vedic studies. The PM himself is doing yoga on Delhi's Rajpath. RSS men are being appointed to educational and cultural institutions. From Padma Awards to other cultural recognitions, people with saffron leanings are being rewarded.

Modi has given a free hand to the RSS. Other organisations and his own MPs and ministers are adding to the pro-Hindutva chatter. This has made the RSS happy with Modi as of now.

Furthermore, the BJP has gained ground in states like Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and Kerala. These are historic achievements for the RSS. [. . .]

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