Insight Delhi

#RSS Image Make Over Covering its bets

#RSS Image Make Over
Covering its bets

The RSS outreach and its attempted image makeover witnessed in September 2018 spells out the realization in the #Hindutva organization of the need to project a moderate face to reach out to all sections of the Indian polity. There is also perhaps the desire to cover its bets as India moves towards the crucial 2019 general elections. The elections will decide whether Prime Minister #Narendra Modi and the BJP will get another five year spell to carry out their agenda.

Effort to Reach Out

For perhaps the first time, the RSS made a comprehensive effort to invite people with different political and social backgrounds to attend the three day conclave where its chief #Mohan Bhagwat was to spell out the organization’s view point on various issues. The RSS even invited leaders of the Left parties and the Congress to attend the meeting. It is another matter that most of them refused to accept the invitation. Many of them perhaps did not want to provide added legitimacy to the RSS widely perceived to be the mother body of the BJP, the party now ruling at the national level as well as in most states of the Indian Union.

Though it is widely known that the RSS is the fountain head of the BJP and its predecessor, the Jan Sangh, Mohan Bhagwat, during his address at the meeting, sought to assert that his organization members are not necessarily supporters of any political party. This would of course be unacceptable to most people, even though it may be legally or technically correct. Of course, members of the RSS do not become members or supporters of the BJP ab- initio. But it is also a fact that RSS members, who have chosen to dabble in the political sphere, have chosen almost invariably to align with the BJP.

An indication of the close links between the RSS and the BJP comes from the fact that functionaries of the RSS are organization secretaries of the BJP at national, state and even lower levels.

Conciliatory Moves

In another significant remark, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat chose to recognize the role played by the Congress and its leaders in the @freedom struggle. Otherwise, the RSS, which played no significant role in the freedom movement, has been wary of talking about the freedom struggle and the role played by people belonging to different political and social persuasions in making the country free from British rule.

The question arises why the RSS is making these conciliatory noises at this time. The timing is crucial. The RSS outreach comes at a time when the momentum is building up for next year’s Lok Sabha elections. Moves are underway in both camps, the one led by the Narendra Modi headed #BJP, and the plethora of forces opposed to the Sangh pariwaar ideology. The elections will decide whether India will have another five year spell of the Narendra Modi brand of BJP or see the return of a secular coalition. It is another matter whether the #Congress will lead the coalition or a leader belonging to a state level regional party will don the mantle of the Prime Minister.

Before the big battle in early summer next year, India will have Assembly elections in five states. The results of the winter elections in these states will give an inkling of what lies ahead. If the BJP, which rules three of these five states at present, meets with reverses, it will set back its bid to win another term in office in the national elections due next year.

Covering Bets

The RSS perhaps is trying to cover its bets faced with the uncertainty of the electoral process. The BJP backed by the RSS organizational strength will no doubt go all out to give another term to Prime Minister Narendra Modi next year. But the RSS wants to build its bridges with other political forces also, in the event of an adverse verdict at the Hastings.

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