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Bhagwat boosts morale

Bhagwat boosts morale

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: August 31, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/199283/Bhagwat-boosts-morale.html

RSS chief plays wise counsellor to BJP

Mohanrao Bhagwat's media conference in Delhi this past week was planned long ago as a routine interaction between the new RSS Sarsanghachalak and journalists. However, given the recent turmoil in the BJP, the conference acquired an importance of its own. As expected, questions on the party, its infighting and high-profile rebellions, and its so-called 'succession plan' dominated the session. To his credit, Mr Bhagwat fielded the queries without losing his trademark sobriety and without breaching the line of correctness. He was firm that while the RSS was a crucial stakeholder in the BJP, the political party was an autonomous body, answerable not just to its Sangh associates but also to a variety of interest groups, in politics and governance and among the public and voters. As such, it was for the party to sort out its problems. The RSS could help the process when asked, but it wasn't going to take over and micromanage the affairs of the BJP, as had been suggested in some quarters. This view was consistent with Mr Bhagwat's oft-repeated opinion that day-to-day politics is not the core concern of the RSS - which has a deeper and long-term social and cultural mandate - and that the political professionals of the BJP are best suited to taking their party forward. However, Mr Bhagwat did make one commonsensical observation when he said he was confident the party would bounce back. This was not empty bravado. It came from a mature and measured reading of the political situation. The BJP has 116 seats in the Lok Sabha and runs half-a-dozen State Governments. True, since 2004 it has been troubled by wrenching generational change at various levels, a transformational process that is still incomplete but that is, as the RSS chief implied, entering its last lap. In a year or so, the party would have crossed the hump and would be back in rebuilding mode. This does not necessarily mean it will automatically win the next Lok Sabha election - only the bravest astrologer would try and predict the verdict of 2014 - but would certainly be in the reckoning. The precise agenda, election issues, faces and mascots will be identified in the course of time. The more important issue is that the journey downhill is finally being arrested. The RSS Sarsanghachalak's meetings with key BJP leaders this past week made it clear he was lending his counsel and services to cooling tempers and helping old colleagues rebuild bridges.

Election defeats can be numbing and confidence-shattering. Some election defeats can be explained as technical losses - as the defeat of 2004 was by the BJP. Others, such as the defeat of 2009, necessitate a more profound assessment, accompanied as they are by tectonic changes in Indian society as well as the passing of a generation of leaders within the party. It is natural that such a moment will throw up both rancour and debate. It is equally to be expected that weathercocks and timeservers will use the juncture to leave the party and move to greener pastures. A big institution has to be robust enough to survive such nasty surprises, to regroup and strike back. This was the broad-sweep perspective that Mr Bhagwat offered the BJP and its ordinary workers and supporters. His message has come as a huge morale-booster, especially for the party cadre. Now, the party's leaders have to match the Sarsanghachalak's sagacity with an honest team effort on their part.

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