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Big Brother's next move - The Indian Express

Yubaraj Ghimire ()
March 27, 1998

Title: Big Brother's next move
Author: Yubaraj Ghimire
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: March 27, 1998

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has admitted that it had
been consulted in the process of the formation of the Atal Behari
Vajpayee led ministry. A silence or denial on the part of the
Sangh would not have meant otherwise. After all, like the BJP,
there are nearly a hundred other orgnisations affiliated to and
guided by the Sangh, but with functional autonomy to chart out
their own programmes, set their goals and targets and decide the
way to achieve them within the arger Hindutva framework'.

Joining hands with forces once opposed to the BJP, or individuals
tainted with corruption and criminal charges, therefore, remains
purely a concern for the BJP The party wields that much autonomy
and knows that the Sangh will not come in the way. For the Sangh,
this is only an apaad dharma that the BJP has been following.

Through its various other activities, the RSS will now
concentrate on its expansion, and will certainly benefit from
having its own government - though with the vices and
vulnerability of a coalition.

RSS chief Rajendra Singh's message to the Akhil Bharatiya
Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS), the Sangh's plenary which concluded on
March 22 in Bangalore, was: "Sangh volunteers are expected to
exploit such a pro-Hindutva atmosphere towards a durable and
permanent growth, specially in areas where they have failed so

Yet, the Sangh expects to continue with its undiluted world view
with Hindutva as its central theme. Its goals are much beyond a
BJP government, or a coalition led by it or getting Jaswant
Singh's name dropped from the fist of ministers. A government for
the RSS is just a means. That is why the RSS is unlikely to make
any compromise on its agenda, leaving it totally to the
government. There could be criticism for the government from the
parent organisation. After all, Sangh's prominent ideologue and
joint general secretary KS. Sudershan did not desist from
publicly criticising BJP's soft-pedalling the Hindutva issue on
the eve of elections.

Even as the BJP shows sign of transformation into a mass base
party, Sangh volunteers still form the BJP's cadre across the
country. Also, about 134 full-time pracharaks of the Sangh are
loaned to occupy key policy and strategy making bodies of the
party. Besides, more than 75 per cent of the party's national
executive members have RSS background.

Me Sangh takes the mandate of 98 as the rejection of the
propaganda that ro-Hinduta forces' are anti-secular, and a dear
outcome of quiet, dedicated and selfless efforts by the Hindutva-
inspired workers over a decade That the analysis does match
almost word by word with that of BJP president and Home Minister
LK Advani - himself a former pracharak is not a mere coincidence.
Advani had expressed similar sentiments and views while proposing
Vajpayee as leader of the BJP and allies in Parliament two weeks

The Sangh's annual report submitted to the Plenary makes a
special mention of Advani as someone to have undertaken a
'veritable national tapasya'.

"It is ironical that our national government and political
leaders in general contented themselves with one day-and-night
Parliament session, speaking glowingly of the message of the
golden jubilee occasion of Independence on the midnight of 14-
15th August 1997, and the entire year was wasted in play of power

"The notable exception was L. K Advani, president of the BJP, who
traversed almost the entire length and breadth of the country day
and night, carrying the real message of the freedom movement to
the urban as well as distant rural areas, and all this during the
gruelling heat of summer as well as cold rainly climate during
the last year," said the report submitted by H.V Seshadri, Sangh
general secretary (chief executive).

Such a tribute to Advani, a key figure in the Cabinet can only be
a testament of hope and faith in the government as well its
limitations. That is why it readily approved omission of issues
such as scrapping Article 370 from the Constitution, ban on cow
slaughter and the Ayodhya temple. Yet, the Sangh succeeded in
imposing its view on secularism on over a dozen BJP allies.
Reiterating that "we are committed to establishing a civilised,
humane and just civil order, that which does not ate on grounds
of caste, religion, class, colour, race or sex, we will truly and
genuinely uphold and practise the concept of secularism
consistent with the Indian tradition of 'equal respect for all
faiths' and on the basis of equality of all," the Sangh has
positioned it self against the forces it calls 'pseudo
secularists', and by extension, the secularism being practised by
these parties.

Also with the new government, the Sangh's missionary activities
especially in the field of education, will get official
recognition and co-operation. There could be special measures in
certain pockets of some north-eastern States like carving out
special autonomous district councils to protect 'minority
Hindus'. Also the Sangh's grievance for several years that Indian
missions abroad 'do not cooperate with their representatives
abroad' may get redressed. But all these acts will have their
own repercussions as well.

There 'Are still areas which can brew trouble between the
colaition government and the Sangh. The Swadeshi economy model
and a strong view on the World Trade Organisation and the BJP
government's political compulsion of having to take the support
of the National Conference a votary of article 370 with its
nationalist credentials under suspicion in the Sangh's eyes all
these years - are few of them.

But for the Sangh with many ups and downs in its 73-year
existence that saw it being banned thrice - the rapid growth in
terms of sakhas is a bigger achievement. The report suggests
there are about 130,000 regular activities that include 42,000
daily sakhas in addition to weekly gatherings all over the
country. They are the real carriers of the Sangh's message. And
the BJP-led government will have a three-way responsibility
delivery, managing the contradiction among allies and acting as
the Sangh's political machinery to translate its world view. The
failure on first two counts will cost the party its government,
and the failure on the third count, perhaps its identity itself.

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