RSS Sends Important Messages through its New Team
Asia News Agency Editorial Board
With a set of changes in its top leadership over last weekend, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) now has a new team in place, under the continued leadership of Mohan Bhagwat.
This team, writes the Hindustan Times “will lead the Sangh’s centenary celebrations in 2025; take forward its mission of ‘uniting Hindu society’; expand its organisational footprint; and play a key part in the coordination between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government at the Centre and in states and other institutional affiliates. Among the changes, the most significant is that of Dattatreya Hosabale’s elevation as the ‘sarkaryavah' (general secretary), the de facto executive head of the organisation with the responsibility of day-to-day management of the Sangh’s vast activities.”
The importance of Hosabale, second-in-command
Hosabale has served as the national organisation secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) - BJP’s student wing. “This background gives Mr Hosabale several advantages. He has a wide network of close associates from his ABVP years, who are today in key positions in the Sangh, in the BJP and in BJP governments. He also has a good working relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah, and has known BJP president JP Nadda for decades. The fact that he is from Karnataka, and the Sangh and the BJP are focused on southward expansion, will mean a focus on newer geographies. And the fact that while being wedded to the Sangh’s ideological framework, Mr Hosabale is among its more suave and modern faces may also mean a slight shift in Sangh’s external projection.”
D K Singh (editor, politics, at ThePrint) writes that among the several messages that the RSS has sent through these appointments, the most important is the “appointment of Dattatreya Hosabale, considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as general secretary or No. 2 in the RSS.”
Rehabilitation of Ram Madhav: Another important message is the rehabilitation of of Ram Madhav. From being the most high profile general secretary of the BJP at one point in time, he fell out of Modi-Shah’s favour and was eventually dropped from the BJP’s team of national office-bearers. His comeback into the RSS as a member of its national executive is said to be a precursor to his elevation in the Sangh hierarchy sooner than later. It’s a fact that the Sangh and the BJP have been working in much closer collaboration than ever before.
RSS - BJP: closer ties
Basically, the significance of the new team lies in the relationship of its new members with the BJP. It is known that there is close ideological convergence between the RSS and the BJP, reflected in the government’s push on Kashmir and the construction of the Ram temple, and reports of divergence are often exaggerated.
It is also known that the RSS wields much influence in the BJP and the government. Three out of four BJP ministers at the Centre have an RSS background, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi who became a Sangh ‘pracharak’ (volunteer) at the age of 22.
Future of PM after he turns 75 in 2025
A larger message, says Singh is that “RSS is trying to look younger and is serious about its unwritten code of 75 years being the cut-off age for holding any post…….Those promoted on Saturday are mostly aged below 60, except Hosabale who is 65. According to Sangh functionaries, 89 per cent of those attending RSS ‘shakhas' today are below 40 years, and 60 per cent of the ‘shakhas' are students.” ‘Shakhas’ are the smallest unit of the RSS at the grassroot level, where volunteers pray together and participate in exercises such as self-defence
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat will turns 71 this September. Narendra Modi is younger than Bhagwat by six days. It is a matter of speculation if he will take up another five-year term as the PM or he will “nominate his successor after turning 75 in 2025.” Singh however, notes that “as it is, Modi as the BJP’s USP is indispensable….”