RSS-BJP Separation?


RSS-BJP Separation?

In an interview with The Indian Express, BJP president JP Nadda has suggested that his party doesn’t need its ideological patron, the RSS, to win elections anymore. ‘We might have been less capable in the beginning, needed the RSS, but we have grown today and are capable. The BJP runs itself,’ said Nadda.  The ruling party president said in the interview that it was ‘not a question of need’ as the RSS does its own ideological work and ‘we do ours’. ‘Powered by our ‘karyakartas’ (workers) we have emerged as the preferred choice of 140 crore Indians,’ Nadda added.

BJP president JP Nadda  implies that the party has grown independent of the RSS now and doesn’t need any hand-holding by the patriarch anymore. Nadda also goes on to say is that the RSS is an 'ideological front’ when it is the parent organisation, and the BJP is its political front.

To Vivek Deshpande (writes on the Trending Topics, Opinions and Top Headlines) “that’s quite an explosive revelation by no less a person than the BJP president himself.

What makes it curious is that it has come right in the middle of the crucial 2024 Lok Sabha elections. And what makes it perplexing is that it breaks the carefully nurtured and internalised RSS strategy not to publicly state anything that could dent its assiduously built facade of an organisational monolith, something that perpetually keeps its adversaries in awe.”


‘Virtual declaration of independence by the BJP from the RSS’

The  Nadda revelation “is a virtual declaration of independence by the BJP from the RSS. There is no missing this message here since Nadda has said it in so many words himself…….” The revelation, “at once, demolishes the myth that the RSS and the BJP are completely in tune with each other and that there is nothing for the two to be upset about.”

At the same time, many analysts have come to believe that the RSS has nothing to complain or worry about the BJP and Modi, since the latter have fully implemented the RSS’ core agenda. This understanding, writes Deshpande “is quite superficial. One needs to delve deep into the RSS’ foundational thought process.”

RSS thought process: There can be no “two opinions about the RSS being happy with the work done by the Modi government toward steering its ideological agenda. But that surely isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of it.

“The RSS does want to see its agenda getting implemented, but not at the cost of its foundational thought process about its organisational functioning being altered. At the heart of that thought process is an inviolate principle — that the organisation must reign supreme and must not be dwarfed by any individual or any personality cult.

“Much to its discomfiture, that’s precisely what has happened with the whole RSS ecosystem over the past ten years under the Modi rule.”

The last ten years have seen “Modi becoming ‘Sangh Parivar’s’ (RSS family)  centre of gravity with everything revolving around him. This is something that goes against the foundational RSS principle that nobody is above the organisation, not even the RSS chief.”

Where is this “separation” headed: Deshpande says  “we will have to wait until the election results are out. If Modi wins a majority, then the RSS would find the going tougher for itself as the patriarch. But if he fails, then the RSS will have the last laugh. It could then pave the way for its regaining pride of place as the ‘Sangh Parivar’ patriarch.”


BJP can’t do without RSS yet

DK Singh (Political Editor at ThePrint)  has a different take on this. Nadda, he says is not abandoning the RSS. “He won’t.” And “there is no way that Nadda would say anything against the RSS.”

What Nadda is suggesting: So, Nadda is suggesting that, “while Modi might have been the biggest factor in the BJP’s victories, the BJP has also become big and robust in its own right. It needs the RSS only for ideological guidance, not to win elections. In 2019, the BJP became the world’s largest party, claiming to have 18 crore members. Sceptics might quibble that the party never made public the data of members constituency-wise or state-wise. But nobody can doubt that the BJP is now a mammoth no other party comes close to.”

Importance of RSS support: The crux of the matter, according to Singh  is “can the BJP do without the RSS? 2024 general election results may throw up some indicators. People sitting on either side of the fence may differ on who the winner will be but they tend to agree on one point—there is no Modi wave even though the PM remains very popular. That’s where the organisation – of the RSS and the BJP – becomes important, especially to bring those people to the polling booths who are otherwise indifferent this time…….

“The 2024 poll results in states where the BJP has been traditionally strong and has built a robust organisational set-up down to the booth level – such as UP, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan –will indicate whether the party is in a position to come out of the RSS’ shadow.”

The test will  be in the post-Modi era: Having said that, Singh concludes “PM Modi is still a very strong pull factor for a large number of voters who don’t need BJP or RSS cadres to take them to the polling booths to ensure his victory. How many of them will do the same when the election is not for PM Modi is anybody’s guess. Nadda’s suggestion that the BJP is capable now and can run its own affairs without the RSS’ help can be truly tested only in the post-Modi era.”

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