Growing rift between RSS, BJP due to Modi-Shah duo’s arrogance

RSS general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale’s comments on rising poverty, unemployment and inequality in the country virtually rebuked the Modi government for failing to address these issues

Growing rift between RSS, BJP due to Modi-Shah duo’s arrogance

Arun Srivastava

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale’s comments on rising poverty, unemployment and inequality in the country virtually censored the Modi government for its utter failure to provide people-oriented governance.

Such a strong comment by Hosabale, next only to Mohan Bhagwat in the hierarchy of the RSS, clearly indicates that the RSS and the Modi government are not on the same page. 

His observation attains even more significance considering that he was addressing the members of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), a prominent constituent of the RSS, which is deeply involved in framing the saffron party’s policies on economic issues.

Though the BJP leaders close to PM Modi tried to play it down, it shook the right-wing’s rank and file. On his part, the BJP spokesperson Gopal Krishna Agarwal tried to mellow down the impact of the remark by saying, “the party does not have a particular stance on what Hosabale said, but he has underlined some of the challenges which are common”. But it utterly failed to assure the BJP’s members and supporters. 

While political experts are divided on the significance of the statement made by such a senior leader of an organisation which is the BJP’s ideological mentor, some senior BJP leaders, not willing to be named, acknowledge the ground reality and lay the blame for it entirely on PM Modi’s door. They nurse the feeling that recent assertions by Modi at the behest of his deputy Amit Shah, besides them ignoring the authority of the RSS, may have triggered Hosabale’s remarks.    

Some political observers hold the view that Hosabale has blue-pencilled  the Modi government to deflect the anger of the people. In their perception, this is a strategic move to protect the image of the BJP. 

It is worth taking serious note that Hosabale compared poverty to a demon which needed to be slayed. “Over 20 crore people who live here are below the below poverty line. Around 23 crore people are having an income of Rs 375 per day. Unemployment rate is also very distressing at 7.6 per cent. There is poverty, unemployment in the country but we also need to discuss the rising inequality,” he had said. 

He obviously intended to send the message that the Modi government was not alive to the emerging scenario, which is undoubtedly precarious. 

He further said, “Even when India has managed to be among the top six economies in the world, we can’t say all is well. One percentage of the population in India holds 20 per cent of the country’s wealth, while 50 per cent has 13 per cent of wealth. We must do something about this economic inequality.”

In January, the SJM, along with seven other saffron organisations, had launched the ‘Swavalambi Bharat Abhiyan’ (SBA), which aims to make India unemployment-free by 2030. Significantly, Hosabale also pointed to the poor level of education as one of the reasons behind the high unemployment rate in the country. It obviously implied that the Modi government’s education policy did not suit the needs of ‘New India’. 

In this backdrop, how could anyone claim that his comments should not be seen as criticism of the current government? 

The  recent visit of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to a mosque and madrasa, and extending an invitation to Muslim scholars is only a damage control exercise. He knows that 22 crores Muslims are going to be a decisive factor in the coming elections. He cannot imagine complete consolidation of Hindu votes in favour of BJP anymore. A major section of the Hindus who had rallied behind Modi in 2019 are now feeling sore and alienated. 

It is worth recalling that in a public address on May 15, Bhagwat had blamed the Modi government and his administration for lowering the guard after the first COVID-19 wave. “We are facing this situation because, whether it was the government, administration or public, everyone dropped their guard after the first wave despite indications from doctors,” Bhagwat had said. 

Bhagwat’s statement was the first public criticism of the Modi government by him since 2014. Nagpur had so far played a fully supportive role.

It is argued that the RSS has benefited immensely under the Modi regime. So, why should it criticise the government. But does it mean that the RSS should allow Modi and his aides to digress from the policies and programmes and disobey the directives of the RSS? It is the part of the same old game of exercising control and enjoying freedom, in which the RSS and Modi are embroiled. 

It is claimed that from 51,335 RSS 'shakhas' in the country in 2015, the number has grown by 13 per cent to 58,967. Certainly, the RSS will not like to lose the ace advantage. But some RSS sources say that in recent times, the number of the shakhas has begun to gone down.  

Just after Modi became Prime Minister and picked up the cause of Hindutva, a large number of urban middle Hindu youth got enrolled as the members of the RSS shakhas. But in recent times, the trend is on the decline. Several strategies deployed by the RSS to attract more young blood into its fold have failed to fructify. 

What is most worrying for the RSS is the fact that OBCs and Dalits are averse to join its base level organisations. Though the BJP’s leadership claims that the backward caste people enjoy the same amount of say and prestige in the party, they feel that upper caste people continue to call the shots in RSS and BJP and they don’t have any standing in the party.    

The BJP’s leadership suffers from the fear of losing face and credibility once the RSS distances itself from the party’s antics. The fact cannot be ignored that the BJP enjoys an advantage over other political parties due to its proximity to the RSS. 

Disobeying the RSS had cost even a leader like L.K. Advani heavily. He had coined the phrase, “The BJP is a party with difference”. He is now in oblivion.

There is clearly an ego war brewing between the leaders of the RSS and the BJP. The RSS cannot tolerate the BJP straying away from the dogmas and prescriptions Nagpur dishes out under the Hindutva rulebook. Being instrumental in ensuring the BJP’s electoral victories to a large extent, it can hardly be expected to tolerate an insolent attitude by BJP leaders. 

The Modi-Shah duo has even gone so far as to reconstitute its two top decision-making bodies by dropping some leaders who are very close to the RSS, which clearly left it miffed.

(IPA Service)

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