It’s like a holding company and its subsidiaries. Very often, the holding company asks its subsidiaries to run their business their way, and thus appoints CEOs, gives them targets and then does quarterly or annual reviews! In the same manner, RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) used to look at BJP as its subsidiary, even when BJP won elections the last time! At that time, BJP was more or less independent as RSS gave much autonomy, hoping that Vajpayee would stick to the principles of RSS. However, Vajpayee became more populist and RSS was not necessarily the most satisfied with him always. Insiders in RSS believe that BJP went out of power because RSS principles were not followed properly by Vajpayee. Despite that, RSS followed its style of looking at BJP as just another subsidiary and gave it reasonable autonomy.
In fact, the RSS has always called itself a social movement and never a political party. Its aim has been to build a robust, democratic and free India since 1925. It believes in the Hindu philosophy of inclusiveness, peace and tolerance. Although it has been called extremist – because of its Hindutva goals – what is appreciable is that it has never focussed on Hinduism as a religion. It’s not as if RSS members are asked to go to temples and pray, neither are meetings etcetera held in temple premises or with references to religion. RSS believes in spreading the philosophy of peaceful coexistence of Hinduism through a strong, disciplined, social organisation, which makes it clear that peace is a choice and not a compulsion out of fear. The Muslim Rashtriya Manch – a social arm of the RSS, which now has more than 10,000 members across the nation – is further evidence of the same. RSS’s history of social work and service has been acknowledged even by Nehru when he invited them to participate in the Republic Day Parade in recognition of their social service during the Sino-Indian war of 1962, and by Shastriji when he sought their help for controlling traffic in Delhi during the India Pakistan war of 1965 in order to free the police for defence duties.
Thus with a clear-cut goal of spreading the sparkling Hindu philosophy of universal peace through a strong India, and prosperity for all by economically uplifting the downtrodden, based upon the concept of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (the world is one family), RSS remained largely apolitical, despite an unparalleled grassroots support base of about 6 million social workers and members. However, having seen how its basic principles were compromised during the last stint of BJP, and realising that this is a great chance to come back to power, this time it seems that RSS has decided that it will definitely play the role of a guiding hand and help BJP not only come to power but also to stay focused, non-corrupt and disciplined. So if BJP comes to power, RSS has not only decided to have a team of 2000 key personnel guiding the government (and keeping the governance clean, non-corrupt, sacrifice-oriented and greed-free, as per RSS philosophy), it has also already assigned them strategic duties in order to see to it that a BJP victory is ensured this time.
While RSS leaders are always behind the scenes and shun publicity, their discipline and work ethics are of very high standards. In fact, though I wrote earlier that I do not believe BJP or Modi is anti-muslim (http://www.thesundayindian.com/en/story/modi-is-not-anti-muslim-its-a-propaganda-of-the-so-called-secular-english-media/48856/), two of my key problems with BJP have been, firstly, its unaggressive focus on trying to remove its anti-Muslim image; and secondly, its lack of focus on uplifting the dalit and scheduled cast communities and also its lack of focus on promoting a clear non-casteist stand. RSS, on the other hand, from the very beginning believed that the Hindu philosophy of universal brotherhood could never be achieved because of the caste system. Therefore, it has been against the caste system, as well as against untouchability; even the Father of the Nation, Gandhiji, during one of his visits to an RSS camp, praised their disciplined life and stand against untouchability! Thus, taking advantage of the disciplined force of Swayamsevaks (volunteers), post the beating in the Delhi assembly elections, RSS swung into action full-time, giving instructions to them to see to it that the same results are not repeated again in general elections.
It is argued and contended by many that BJP, on its own merit, can’t even get 100 seats; neither can it gather the thousands coming in to hear Modi nor can it create a Modi wave! It’s the RSS support that is getting people, creating the wave and ensuring that this time, by their active participation for the first time in the political process, BJP comes back into power. While the Communists always used their grassroots members for political gains, this is for the first time that RSS is doing the same, instead of allowing BJP to go it alone on its own merit. And it’s needless to question the power that RSS wields over BJP. The fact that from time to time, L.K.Advani, the man RSS trusts the most, gets away with various anti-Modi banter, is because RSS has its hand behind him; many suspect that RSS even gets certain messages passed on by making Advani speak openly on various issues. While Narendra Modi himself is a disciplined RSS member – and RSS trusts him to deliver on its mission of selfless work for nation building – it is leaving no stone unturned this time to bring in more of its key people into more decisive roles in BJP for a long-lasting BJP government at the Center. And the man behind all this planning and initiation is Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief. If BJP storms into power this time, the truth is that it will have a lot to thank the RSS and Mohan Bhagwat for.