Keeping the Parivar close: Why RSS-Modi govt meet is more than just an 'exchange of notes'

Officially the three-day meet between the Modi government and Sangh Parivar is for the “exchange of notes”. With all top ministers, leading functionaries of the ruling BJP and of all constituents of their ideological fountainhead, RSS present under one roof at Madhyanchal Bhawan in Delhi for such an extended period, the meet surely has far bigger ramifications.

Though such a meet between the RSS and BJP has taken place in the past when the Vajpayee government was in power, what makes this meeting more significant is the timing, scale and magnitude when compared to the previous event.

The fact that the meet is taking place this early in the Modi government's tenure, just 15 months after assuming office, is indicative of the fact that the top leaders in BJP, both in the government and outside it, are attaching a great deal of importance to taking feedback from the Sangh Parivar. And if needed even taking corrective measures.

PTI image

PTI image

Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have taken some lessons from perceived mistakes of the Vajpayee government by not keeping the party's ideological family in confidence and good humour. Senior RSS leaders did meet Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani, but they were mostly discreet.

The leadership in the present Modi government and past Vajpayee government hailed from RSS backgrounds. Meetings among Parivar members are not unusual, but when the meeting is structured so that members of the extended family are also invited to participate in the deliberations as equals then it certainly becomes a special event, because they influence decisions, policy and appointments.

A BJP-Sangh Parivar co-ordination meet comparable to the one currently taking place had taken place in 2003 at Chandiwala mansion in Okhla in Delhi towards the end of the second term of Vajpayee government. At the time misunderstandings between the government, party and Parivar had come to the fore. The meet was then called to essentially address or clear any misunderstandings between the party and Parivar, particularly on issues raised by the Swadeshi Jagran Manch and VHP. But the scale of that meet in terms of number of participants was smaller than the ongoing meet at `Madhyanchal’ in New Delhi.

Modi is conscious that potential conflicts need to be addressed before they flare up in public. In the days ahead of this meet two things happened – RSS-affiliate and the largest labour organization, BMS, pulled out of Wednesday’s nationwide strike called by labour unions. And Modi announced that the land acquisition ordinance will not be re-promulgated and extended the revised compensation benefits to farmers in 13 other categories where different central laws were operative. The Bharatiya Kisan Sangh and other outfits related to the RSS had placed on record their opposition to the land ordinance before the SS Ahluwalia-headed Joint Parliamentary Committee, which is scrutinizing the provisions of the land bill.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had earlier cautioned Parivar affiliates to restrain themselves in their criticism of the Modi government and pleaded that it be given reasonable amount of time before making an assessment on which way the government was heading.

Sources say there's no denying the fact that the Sangh Parivar’s expectations from Modi government are far greater than it had from Vajpayee government. Vajpayee headed a coalition government and had to give in to various kinds of pulls and pressures of alliance partners. In contrast Modi government has a complete majority on its own and in the next two years, it could be comfortably placed in Rajya Sabha too. When the Vajpayee government was in power, the Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya and Swadeshi were hot issues on Parivar’s agenda. There is no such burning issue that it plans to confront the Modi government with. The RSS now is keen that its nationalist ideological agenda is pursued by the government.

Like Vajpayee, Modi too has been a RSS Pracharak and is thus keenly aware of core values of the Parivar and the expectations it has from him. When Vajpayee became Prime Minister Rajendra Singh, known as Rajju Bhaiya, was RSS chief. By the time KS Sudarshan succeeded Rajju Bhaiya in 2000, the Vajpayee government at the centre had become stable and won a second mandate. Also Vajpayee and Advani were senior to Sudarshan both in age and in what they call Sangh aayu (the time spent in RSS or its affiliates).

Modi and current RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat are contemporaries. So are the rest of senior leaders in the BJP and RSS. BJP chief Amit Shah is younger. There have been many RSS leaders who boasted that during 2014 elections the Sangh Parivar workers worked with kind of vigour, which was never seen before in 2009, 2004, 1999 or 1998. Modi in turn delivered a dream mandate.

The RSS’s presence in the organizational matters of BJP have increased since the time BJP lost elections in 2004, more so after Advani’s Jinnah controversy. By the time Modi was announced Prime Ministerial candidate, the ways and means of effective coordination between party and the RSS was put in place.

A look at the list of governors appointed by Modi government after removing UPA appointees clearly suggests that those appointed to this high constitutional post are persons with strong RSS rooting and an austere living style. This list includes Ram Naik, OP Kohli, Balramji Das Tandon, Keshari Nath Tripathi, Padmanabha Balakrishna Acharya , Kalyan Singh, Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala, C. Vidyasagar Rao, Mridula Sinha and Ram Nath Kovind.

In other official appointments, names “proposed by the Parivar” have carried maximum weight. One such recommendation, Gajendra Chauhan for FTII has landed government in deep soup. The presence of heavyweight union ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Manohar Parikar, Ananth Kumar, JP Nadda and others at the meet to hear the views of Parivar affiliates on how the governance should progress, get their feedback on functioning of the government and try to convince them they were doing the needful to stick to the “nationalistic” agenda is most revealing.

On Friday, all eyes will be on Modi to see if he turns up at Madhyanchal for his first meeting with his extended Parivar, his first since he became PM. There has perhaps been no previous occasion where he participated in such a meeting even while he was Gujarat Chief Minister. It could be a very special moment for him and the Parivar.


Published Date: Sep 04, 2015 10:45 am | Updated Date: Sep 04, 2015 11:09 am


Also See