January 06, 2021

India: The Sangh-BJP equation in Modi 2.0 govt | Radhika Ramaseshan (Jan 6, 2021)

 BJP’s new power order

Tweaked hierarchy gives it full control, reducing RSS’s interventions

by Radhika Ramaseshan

Senior Journalist

An organisational restructuring in the BJP is rarely newsworthy unless the change is effected at the top or a big-time functionary such as Ram Madhav is dropped from the central team of office-bearers and Vasundhara Raje is shafted to pave the way for a leadership makeover in Rajasthan. Recently, JP Nadda, the BJP president, quietly tweaked the organisational hierarchy to reinforce a significant political message: the BJP will exercise complete control over the party and its apparatuses and the patriarch RSS’s interventions could become minimal, if not nominal. The Sangh-BJP equation that was in a permanent flux has settled into a constant in the Modi regime. PM Modi rules over a BJP-majority government that is not rocked by the coalition partners or an Opposition. Until he confronted his first challenge in the farmers’ movement, his authority appeared incontestable. The RSS is hands-off towards the protests. Its farmers’ front, the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) issued innocuous statements. The paterfamilias is in no mood to rock the boat.

The BJP took advantage of its commanding position to minimise the presence of the RSS pracharaks in Nadda’s team and overturned an arrangement ostensibly cast in stone. BL Santhosh remains the general secretary (organisation), and there is no dilution in the power he wields as the second-most important person in the party. In the past, a general secretary, however influential, had two or more deputies ‘assisting’ him. This line-up of the general secretary and the joint general secretaries (organisation) under him was generally made up of obscure figures who avoided the media, although Sunder Singh Bhandari and KN Govindacharya were exceptions and liberally shared information and political insights. Santhosh and Ramlal, his predecessor, had a trio under them, comprising V Satish, Saudan Singh and Shiv Prakash all of who were ‘loaned’ to the BJP for long-term work.

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