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RSS message to Modi: the country isn't a one-man show

Panini Anand | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 4:11 IST

The meet

  • PM Modi, senior ministers and BJP leaders met the RSS top brass in Delhi from 2-4 September
  • Ministers gave a \"report card\" of their performance in front of the Sangh mandarins
  • RSS felt the government needs to know the views of cadres who work on the ground
  • The meet covered a wide range of topics - national security, education, history and culture
  • RSS urged the government to fill up key positions in official bodies and cooperatives

The politics

  • RSS wanted to assert that it\'s a power centre
  • It wanted to send the message that Modi needs to work within the boundaries of RSS ideology
  • Modi on his part needs the RSS\' support in the Bihar elections

For the first time, the BJP government and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh held a coordination meeting in the national capital.

This three day meeting was held at Madhyanchal Bhavan from 2 September to 4 September. During these three days, many Cabinet ministers and senior BJP leaders marked their attendance before the RSS top brass.

The ministers gave a "report card" of their performance in front of the Sangh mandarins. A similar meeting had taken place last year. But it was much more limited in scale and scope as the government had just been elected and there was little to evaluate.

Here's a lowdown of what happened at the three day meeting and why it is important.

The agenda

The main agenda of the meeting was to evaluate the last 15 months of the Modi government, especially on issues of importance to the RSS.

"There was a need to brief the ministers on how they should conduct themselves. Policy-making also needs to be fine-tuned," said an RSS source.

The meeting took stock of the progress made on the promises given in the manifesto and commitments made to Sangh affiliates.

"The RSS and sister organisations are satisfied with the performance of the government. However, there are some concerns that needed to be addressed," said an RSS source.

The RSS felt that the government needs to know the views of the rank and file and what they face at the ground level.

"What is wrong if a senior cadre who is working for Vidya Bharati (the Sangh's education front) interacts with the HRD minister?" asks a BJP leader.

Before the meeting, the RSS said that this is not an appraisal meeting. It was meant to be a forum for an exchange of views between the government and the RSS and its affiliates. However, it ended up as an appraisal meeting.

Who all attended

  • RSS top brass: Mohan Bhagwat, Suresh 'Bhaiyyaji' Joshi, Krishna Gopal, Dattatreya Hosable, Manmohan Vaidya
  • Union Ministers: PM Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari, JP Nadda, Manohar Parrikar, Venkaiah Naidu, Ananth Kumar and Smriti Irani
  • BJP leadership: Amit Shah, Ram Lal, Ram Madhav and others
  • Over 30 organisations affiliated to the RSS

Notable absentees

  • Lal Krishna Advani: Apparently, Bhaiyaji Joshi requested him to be the part of meeting, but he didn't come.
  • Murli Manohar Joshi.
  • VHP top brass: international president Ashok Singhal and second in command Champat Rai didn't attend as they are in the US.

What transpired

Union ministers gave details of the work done by them so far and their plans for the future. RSS and their sister organisations gave their views on the functioning of the respective ministries. They also conveyed the feedback they had been receiving from the ground on the government's performance.

An important concern was regarding appointments in various departments and institutions. The RSS representatives pointed out to the government that many posts are lying vacant. For instance, it was flagged that elections haven't taken place in a large number of cooperatives. Even the large number of vacancies in educational institutions was raised.

It was supposed to be an exchange of ideas but it ended up as an appraisal of 15 months of Modi govt

The RSS representatives emphasised repeatedly that government policy has to follow the ideology of the RSS.

The meet covered a wide range of topics from national security and foreign policy to education, history and culture. The Maoist insurgency and Kashmir were discussed at length.

Power play

If there is one key message the RSS conveyed through the meet it is that the country cannot be a one man show. Modi might be the prime minister but the RSS' ideology and agenda has to be accommodated.

This was the RSS' way of establishing itself as an important centre of power and asserting that Modi is not a completely independent entity.

The meeting was important for Modi as well. He has understood that he cannot do without the RSS.

The upcoming assembly election in Bihar is a matter of prestige for him. He is desperate for a victory in the politically crucial state. With the JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance putting up a strong fight, Modi needs the full support of the RSS.

What happens next

The RSS has given its inputs. Now it's up to the government to implement them.

"This meeting was not about decision making. It was a forum for discussion and brainstorming. Now its the responsibility of government to perform," said joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosbale.

However, the RSS is aware that there any many difficulties in the implementation of its agenda. Core issues like Swadeshi and Article 370 cannot be implemented purely according to the Sangh's wishes.

"It is now RSS versus the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy has its own style of functioning. For instance, bureaucrats say that One Rank One Pension will be a drain on the exchequer. But we feel it should be implemented no matter what the cost," said an RSS source.

First published: 5 September 2015, 2:51 IST
Panini Anand @paninianand

Senior Assistant Editor at Catch, Panini is a poet, singer, cook, painter, commentator, traveller and photographer who has worked as reporter, producer and editor for organizations including BBC, Outlook and Rajya Sabha TV. An IIMC-New Delhi alumni who comes from Rae Bareli of UP, Panini is fond of the Ghats of Varanasi, Hindustani classical music, Awadhi biryani, Bob Marley and Pink Floyd, political talks and heritage walks. He has closely observed the mainstream national political parties, the Hindi belt politics along with many mass movements and campaigns in last two decades. He has experimented with many mass mediums: theatre, street plays and slum-based tabloids, wallpapers to online, TV, radio, photography and print.