Gag on 'ghar wapsi' leader Rajeshwar Singh shows how invested RSS is in Modi

The RSS has gagged Rajeshwar Singh so that rogue elements do not disrupt the Modi agenda. Even though the Sangh agenda is different from the government's, it has no stake in embarrassing Modi, the man who brought them victory.

Sanjay Singh January 04, 2015 16:25:25 IST
Gag on 'ghar wapsi' leader Rajeshwar Singh shows how invested RSS is in Modi

The marginalisation of the RSS-inspired convenor of the Dharam Jagran Samanway Samiti, Rajeshwar Singh, is the result of an acute realisation within the BJP and the Sangh Parivar leadership that hotheads like Singh would damage the Narendra Modi government – something neither side wants.

Singh’s high-profile claims about “ghar wapsi” conversions led to continuous disruptions in the Rajya Sabha in December, derailing the government’s legislative agenda. He has been asked by the Sangh to go on medical leave to avoid causing further embarrassment to the government.

His exit has relieved senior BJP leaders, who have the difficult job of steering several new bills through the Rajya Sabha in the budget session. They didn’t need this distraction when their focus has to be on floor management.

A senior functionary in the Union government termed elements like Rajeshwar Singh as “non-state actors” and a threat to Modi’s development agenda: “They cannot be allowed a free run and thus needed to be contained. The RSS leadership is clear in its mind that Modi couldn’t, and shouldn’t, be disturbed. He has got a historic mandate and has promises to deliver to the people. In the last seven months he has further inspired confidence among the people and set a reformist, development agenda rolling. The actions of some loose cannons disturb his focused nation-building efforts.”

“It is clear that the RSS cracked the whip and gave him his marching orders. By doing so it has sent out a message that all party and parivar officials should behave responsibly”, he told Firstpost.

A forced “medical leave” for Singh means his profile within the parivar will be diminished. The RSS, or, for that matter, the BJP, is not as such against “ghar wapsi” (reconversion of Muslims and Christians to Hinduism), which has been proceeding quietly for decades. It was the manner in which Singh chose to play it before the media – where he claimed India would become a Hindu nation by 2021 by converting or deporting the rest – that made the BJP cringe.

Gag on ghar wapsi leader Rajeshwar Singh shows how invested RSS is in Modi

Rameshwar Singh in this photo. Screengrab from video

Before making those obnoxious statements, he was an unknown commodity. But he clearly wanted the limelight, and that was his undoing.

When Firstpost asked party president Amit Shah whether all this had done the BJP’s image damage, he replied: “There have been several instances in the past when such statements were made by people (within and outside the Sangh), but nobody cared for them and they were ignored by the media. Now that the BJP is in power, media scrutiny is higher and such statements are played out. Since we are in government we have an additional responsibility to exercise greater caution and be more careful.”

Another senior BJP leader, who requested anonymity, was more candid on the subject. He admitted that given Modi’s continuing connect with the people and the party’s consecutive victories in state after state, neither the party nor the government needs to worry about what the Opposition is doing or not doing.

"The opposition is bereft of any issue and ideas. It has also lost its standing among the people. They will carry on with their negative agenda of disrupting Parliament on one pretext or the other. We can’t really help that. Our real conflict or challenge comes from within, from a section of rogue elements within the Sangh Parivar. They have to be straightened. We have to stick to our development agenda.  If somebody thinks that they can digress from our stated agenda, he or she is sadly mistaken. Unhe apna Tadka lagane ki ijajat nahi hai."

Modi had expressed his displeasure over such incidents at a BJP parliamentary party meeting last month. The ghar wapsi programme scheduled for 25 December in Aligarh by VHP-affiliated organisations was subsequently cancelled.

The BJP has a clear opinion on conversions – bring a law to regulate it. This has been stated by senior leaders, including Amit Shah and Venkaiah Naidu, but the party knows it has merely started a public debate on it, both inside and outside of Parliament.

The RSS is one of the biggest stakeholders in the Modi government, howsoever hard the RSS and the BJP may deny it publicly. The former has been the prime driver in Modi being named Prime Ministerial candidate in September 2013, and continued to back him to the hilt even after he was sworn in as Prime Minister. Modi, on his part, delivered what was a distant dream for the RSS (a parliamentary majority). It has, therefore, become important for the Sangh as ideological fountainhead of the BJP to ensure that the Modi government succeeds and remains in power for a long time in future.

A senior office-bearer in the BJP pointed out that the poll catch-phrase, "'Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas' was inspired by the Sangh’s philosophy. The actual spirit of Hindutva is inclusive and not exclusivist.”

The RSS’s marching orders to Rajeshwar Singh has given BJP leaders new-found confidence because they have to guide a difficult floor strategy during the budget session of Parliament to get many ordinances passed, including the three contentious ones – land acquisition, insurance and coal auctions. The chances of “self goal” worried them most.

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