Can RSS strategy session in Delhi to salvage public image veer away from communal agenda?
RSS leaders met in Delhi on Saturday to evolve a strategy to help the BJP Government salvage its public image. Both facing existential crisis, can they do better than promote a communal agenda?
Supporters and sympathisers of the PM say it is unfair to treat his tears at the death of 'Kuch Log' (some people) as crocodile tears. But it took sixteen months, death of nearly 40 lakh people according to the New York Times, and only after global media started tearing apart his image of an efficient administrator.
RSS has been quite happy with Modi as he has accomplished most of the important tasks assigned to him by the RSS. These are abrogation of section 370 in JK, criminalising the already illegal Triple Talaq and laying the foundation for Ram Mandir.
Ten senior RSS leaders met in Delhi on Saturday to evolve a strategy to help Modi overcome the crisis and also issue guidelines to Yogi Adityanath, yet another blue eyed boy of RSS. For the better part of the last one year the estimated 55 lakh swayansevaks or RSS volunteers have been largely invisible.
Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief, when he finally found his voice, sounded callous. While his concern was the overwhelmingly negative image of the Government in public perception, he declared that those who had died had been freed. When RSS volunteers were eventually stirred out to help, they made a spectacle of themselves by promoting Havans to drive away the virus and posing for photo-ops.
Neither the Government nor the RSS have bothered to comment, explain or stop profiteering, hoarding and and black marketing of vaccines, medicines and medical equipment. Only yesterday a Delhi court pulled up BJP MP Gautam Gambhir for illegally storing medicine. There were reports about the involvement of the uncle of a BJP MP from Bengaluru in selling medicines in the black market. Nor has the RSS been able to force the government to stop discrimination in the supply and distribution of vaccines to states.
Protests and requests to put off the Central Vista renovation fell on deaf ears. And even appeals from over 200 scholars, academics and authors, including Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, and retired bureaucrats were ignored.
Retired bureaucrats' collective Constitutional Conduct Group had also commented, “what numbs our senses daily is not just the cries of the citizenry for medical assistance and the death toll in its thousands but the manifestly casual attitude of your government to the magnitude of the crisis and its implications for the mental and physical health of the community of Indians.”
The bureaucrats in their letter complained; “Despite warnings from the international community and our own scientists, the breathing space between the first and the second waves was not used to augment critical resources. You and your ministerial colleagues not only diverted attention from the looming threat but probably also contributed to both state governments and citizens letting down their guard at a crucial juncture. As a result, your ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ is today compelled to seek the help of the outside world to lessen the agony inflicted on its own people by your government.”
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was absolutely right in his avowal that second wave of corona which consumed lakhs of innocent people happened because of Narendra Modi failing to perform his moral responsibilities. He has even urged;” Change your style of functioning, Mr Prime Minister. Lakhs of people have died because of your deeds. More people will be killed.”
RSS and the BJP have succeeded in creating an illusion that there is no no alternative to Modi. But the comprehensive defeat of the BJP in Bengal has taken the sheen off such claims. Principles of federalism have been trampled , democratic and parliamentary institutions have been systematically weakened. But despite using money, central forces, the media and the infamous IT Cell, BJP lost in Bengal. So, ahead of the UP election, that is a worry.
What is clear is that even the RSS is facing an existential crisis. RSS would not like to sacrifice either Modi or Yogi. They would also not like to suspend their aggressive policies and programmes. They may not prefer to lock horns with the centrist and democratic forces at this stage but they would intensify their divisive politics and policies and they have given enough indication by deciding to renew CAA and NRC programmes.
So what advice can the RSS give BJP ? They do need each other as they stumble and fall. But having ignored public interest for the past seven years, can they really rein themselves in?
Views are personal