Dismissing the charge that it is “remote-controlling” the government, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Friday asserted its ideological supremacy and the right to “guide” the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The three-day Samanvay Baithak (coordination meeting) of the RSS and its affiliates ended here, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi arriving at the venue to meet the 93 representatives of the 15 ideological affiliates of the Sangh Parivar.
Attendees of the meet The meeting saw senior ministers – including Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Education Minister Smriti Irani – making presentations with regard to their work before RSS ideologues led by its chief Mohan Bhagwat. To the allegation by the CPI(M) and the Congress about this exercise being an evidence of the RSS – which calls itself a cultural organisation – “remote controlling” the government, the RSS Joint General Secretary Dattatreya Hosabale said: “We don’t respond to the Congress in the normal course. But it is strange for a party that ran a totally remote-controlled regime to make this kind of allegation.”
‘No violation of oath’
As to whether the Cabinet Ministers making presentations before the RSS constitutes a violation of their oath to secrecy, Hosabale said: “Cabinet Ministers attend meetings hosted by the CII, the FICCI and other organisations. How is coming to an RSS meeting violating their oath of secrecy? We are citizens of India, members of the public. Why can’t the Ministers come and meet us? You (journalists) can also invite them to the Press Club of India.”
Concerns conveyed The RSS strongly denied that the Samanvay Baithak was aimed at charting a course correction for the government which has faced criticism for dragging its feet on the ‘One Rank One Pension’ issue as well as its “anti-farmer” stand, especially because of the promulgation of an ordinance to amend the 2013 Land Acquisition Act. The week before this meeting saw the Government withdrawing the ordinance, and it transpired that the BJP President Amit Shah had given a commitment to the RSS with regard to the OROP issue.
“Amit Shah has said that it (OROP) will be implemented soon. We believe it would happen,” said Hosabale.
Hosabale did not shy away from asserting that the Sangh’s concerns on the economy, security as well as socio-cultural issues were conveyed to the ruling BJP.
“The Sangh works with the society. But we also understand the importance of the State and its role in transformation of the society. We have swayamsevak s and pracharak s working in all walks of life, including the government. This meeting was meant as a discussion forum between the Ministers and others who work with the society,” he said.
Several members of the Union Cabinet have been swayamsevaks (RSS volunteers) and this is the first time that a pracharak (full-time worker of the RSS) is the Prime Minister.
By and large, the RSS seemed satisfied with the performance of the government.
“No one can be 100 per cent satisfied with a government. But in terms of the overall commitment and determination, one has to say that it is on the right direction,” said Hosabale.
On what constituted the “biggest achievement” of the government so far, Hosabale said: “We feel the government has raised hopes and aspirations of the people. That is the most important thing.”
Core concerns It was clear that the RSS would continue to “guide” the government and has decided not to create unnecessary schisms, especially concerning core ideological concerns such as the Ram temple in Ayodhya, Article 370 and Uniform Civil Code. “There should be efforts towards these goals. The BJP has certain timelines and they should be guided by that,” said Hosabale.