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Is Mohan Bhagwat drifting away from BJP?

Arti Ghargi

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While BJP and PM Modi are talking of decimating the opposition completely, the RSS chief seems to be in sharp contrast with it. Instead, almost surprisingly, Mohan Bhagwat categorically talks about “not excluding” anyone.

In 2013, standing on the dais in Pune at BJP’s public meeting, Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi gave a call for “Congress-mukt Bharat”. Thereafter, it became BJP’s war cry for 2014 General Elections which continues even today. However, five-years later head of BJP’s ideological mentor RSS has come out and has openly said that “Congress-mukt Bharat” is merely a political slogan. Considering the respect that RSS commands in BJP, the statement definitely indicates the changing winds in the RSS-BJP relationship.

Speaking at a book launch event in Pune on April 1, RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat said, “Congress-mukt Bharat is merely a political slogan. It is not the language of RSS.” Underlining the inclusiveness of RSS, Bhagwat even said that RSS does not believe in such political slogans which talk about excluding anyone.

The comments made by RSS chief have come in the wake of several comments made by the BJP top leadership which often refers to the “Congress-mukt Bharat” including Prime minister Modi himself.

So, Mohan Bhagwat talking of not muzzling opposition voices comes as a stark contradiction with what BJP leaders talk about. So, let us first analyse the statements of RSS chief:

“These [phrases like Congress-mukt Bharat] are political slogans… it is not in the parlance of the RSS. The word ‘mukt’ is used in politics and not part of the Sangh’s lexicon. We never use the language of excluding anyone.”

BJP’s rigorous campaign launched in 2013 was constructed around the slogan “Congress-mukt Bharat”. The campaign that led the BJP to emerge victorious with a massive margin. However, the “Congress-mukt Bharat” didn’t stop there. PM Modi and BJP President Amit Shah made sure to invoke the slogan in subsequent state elections as well. Recently, Prime Minister Modi at a rally in Karnataka said, “The BJP will definitely ensure a Congress Mukt Karnataka. We do not want the Congress culture to exist in the nation.” On February 7, replying to the debate in the Rajya Sabha on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address, Modi said, “Congress Mukt Bharat is Gandhi’s dream. We are trying to follow the path shown by him.”

While BJP and PM Modi are talking of decimating the opposition completely, the RSS chief seems to be in sharp contrast with it. Instead, almost surprisingly, Mohan Bhagwat categorically talks about “not excluding” anyone. This might as well indicate the willingness of RSS to work with Congress if need be.

Mohan Bhagwat

Image Source: Web

 

 

“Nation-building cannot be the work of one man. It has to be inclusive, requiring the contributions of both the ruling and the Opposition parties.”

In what can be called as a veiled dig at the ruling BJP and PM Modi who often talk about Congress having done nothing in the 60 years of rule, Bhagwat stresses on the importance of both ruling and opposition parties working together.

It can also be seen in the context of the recent logjam in the parliament. The parliament couldn’t function as the ruling party was at loggerheads with the opposition. While the ruling party blamed it on opposition; opposition almost unanimously said that the Modi government never reached out to the opposition parties.

The statement might as well be seen as a warning in the wake of Telugu Desam Party- NDA’s most trusted ally since the Vajpayee era, exiting the coalition while Shivsena-another long-term ally has announced its plan of fighting the 2019 elections separately. The cracks in NDA are now visible more than ever. We have explained how Modi-Shah duo is at the centre of this discontent among the allies in our article Was BJP fair to NDA?

 

Mohan Bhagwat

Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee always reached out to the opposition

Mohan Bhagwat

…and so did Indira Gandhi

“We have to take everyone along in the process of nation-building even if our thoughts do not agree. We need persons with a positive approach to bring about change, else we will fall prey to conflicts and divisions.”

In a defining statement, he further underlines why despite differences, the ruling party must take opposition along with them. In light of the several incidents of violence on religious and caste lines, Bhagwat’s next statement comes as an unambiguous dig at the leadership of PM Modi. Bhagwat said that those with a negative approach would think only of conflicts and divisions. “Such a person is not at all useful in the process of nation-building,” he said.

The conflicts arising in the society followed by communal and caste violence have shaken the country. Recently, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Rajasthan witnessed communal clashes during Ram Navami while Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and UP witnessed caste clashes during the Bharat Bandh protest called by Dalit organization over SC/ST act amendment. Prime minister’s Modi’s silence on these issues drew criticism from all over the country. Was the statement by Bhagwat a subtle dig at Modi’s leadership? Seems so.

Currently, Mohan Bhagwat-the Sarsanghchalak is considered the most powerful extra-constitutional body as it is the mentor of world’s largest political party and has its disciples in Modi’s cabinet. Most of the BJP MPs, MLAs and Chief ministers are from RSS background. Even Prime Minister Modi himself was associated with RSS before turning to active politics. Thus, Bhagwat’s statements send open signals that everything is not well with the BJP and RSS.

Mohan Bhagwat

Image Source: Web

Is Mohan Bhagwat distancing the RSS from BJP?
Though the RSS-BJP bond is said to be strengthened due to the quartet of Modi-Shah-Mohan Bhagwat and Joshi, we cannot forget that after Modi’s win in 2014, it was Bhagwat who told the RSS members that it is not their job to hail Modi.

The core problem here lies in PM Modi’s autocratic way of running the government. The government’s lack of willingness to build a constructive dialogue with the opposition is visible from the way BJP spokesperson deride opposition spokesperson. The likes of Sambit Patra, Smriti Irani have the least regards for opposition participation and often indulge in ridiculing the opposition. RSS, on the other hand, set an example by supporting Indira Gandhi government during 1971 Bangladesh War despite the opposing ideologies.

Mohan Bhagwat

Image source: Web

Demonetization and GST:

While BJP is political organization that works on a macro level, RSS is a cultural organization that works with ground-level people. The branches of RSS have spread across the country and many grass-root workers are connected to it. Maybe that is the reason why the RSS understands the mood of discontent among people against the Modi government. While the BJP leaders hailed Demonetization and GST as a major success, the RSS wings working for farmers and labourers had a different view.

The RSS has organisations like the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) and the Laghu Udyog Bharati (LUB) which mainly fight for or the SMSEs and agro sector, it also had Bharatiya Majdoor Sangh-the Sangh affiliated labour union, has been fighting against the government’s alleged ‘anti-labour’ policies. These RSS-affiliated groups are also critical of Modi’s economic policies including FDI and import of Chinese goods.

Mohan Bhagwat

Image Source: Web

Stalling Hosabale’s elevation in RSS ranks:

On March 10, during the annual meeting of RSS, it was declared that Bhaiyaji Joshi will be retaining the post of General Secretary of RSS for the fourth time. This put a stop to speculations that Dattatreya Hosabale would be elevated to the position of sah-sarkaryavahak. It is believed that the step was taken to prevent RSS from being completely BJP-centric. This was for the second time that the elevation of Hosabale who is said to be very close to PM Modi was pushed back.

The move might also implicate that the RSS does not want to lose the ideological command it has over BJP. Hosabale’s elevation may have threatened the distinction policy echoed time and again by Mohan Bhagwat. Like the allies who have quit the NDA, RSS too might be fearing that the dominating duo of Modi-shah will consume the organization.

Mohan Bhagwat

Image Source: Web

The statements of Sarsanghchalak may also be the warning signs for BJP ahead of 2019. The BJP knows very well that it has lost a considerable amount of clout and believing that the party will win more seats than it did in 2014, is nothing but daydreaming. The Modi-Shah duo knows that it is the RSS grass-root workers who can help the party mobilise the masses in its favour. Thus, it wouldn’t be wise to upset the RSS leadership.

The RSS, during 2014 worked shouldering with the BJP to ensure its victory. However, Mohan Bhagwat seems to be more cautious with Modi’s BJP this time.

 

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