The RSS has found a new admirer in Janata Dal (United) chief and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. He is a big name. A leader with high credentials, Nitish was considered as a counter to Narendra Modi till last week of July 2017 when he dumped RJD and Congress and exited the Mahagathbandhan to rejoin NDA. His words, therefore, would be music to ears of entire Sangh Parivar.
He, of course, added that he did not agree with the RSS’ ideology. And he didn't need to as he had his own philosophy (socialist) and his own style. But the Bihar chief minister always had high respect for the Sangh’s commitment, consistency, its roots and its ever-expansionist mode.
On Wednesday, Nitish, for the first time publicly lauded the RSS. And that too at a time when the intolerance debate in India has heightened, secular parties are bent on targeting the Sangh, and Rahul Gandhi, leader of the largest party in opposition, in particular, is bitter about the RSS. Nitish was also critical of Rahul, though on a different issue, blaming him for his exit from the Mahagathbandhan.
Responding to queries from ABP News at its news conclave in Patna, Nitish said he had known RSS since his student days when he was sent to jail in Gaya under MISA during Emergency in 1974. He came in contact with KN Govindacharya who was also lodged in the jail under the same charges and read all kinds of RSS literature. It’s a different matter though that he ultimately was impressed by Ram Manohar Lohia, Mahatma Gandhi and Jaiprakash Nayaran's philosophy. He kept on repeating that RSS is an old organisation, founded in 1925 and has since grown to immense proportions.
"They have been working as per their own thought process since 1925. It’s a big organisation. You can agree or disagree with their viewpoint, but what has to be noted is their commitment. Jansangh was formed by the RSS and the BJP has become even more widespread. I am not in agreement with RSS’ viewpoint. I have my own viewpoint and style, but one thing is worthwhile to be understood about the RSS is the consistency in their work. From 1925 till today how much it has spread! Can anyone imagine their work in the North East? In the North East, some states have negligible Hindu population but even then they worked consistently without hurrying for immediate result.”
“You are looking at the RSS from a certain prism. The RSS has its own way to work. We are seeing RSS from the student days. It has another facet, (we are not seeing) everything that it does,” he said.
Nitish then said that he had heard JP (Jaiprakash Narayan) say during the 'Chatra Sangarsh Samiti' (formed to opposed Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi) days that only one-eighth of the work that RSS does comes in public domain and the rest is not seen by the people. He added that he fully believed what JP said.
Nitish’s remarks are also significant from the NDA’s perspective. He had been aligned with the BJP since the 1990s barring from mid-2013 to mid-2017. By lauding RSS, Nitish makes his alignment with the BJP complete and unquestionable. He had separated from BJP when Narendra Modi was about to be named the party's prime ministerial nominee for the 2014 elections. But since then Nitish has become friend with Modi, an RSS swayamsevak to rose through the ranks to become the Prime Minister of India.
The other indication of his total alignment with the BJP that Nitish gave was going into the details of the appointment of Prashant Kishor as his deputy in the JD(U), revealing that BJP chief Amit Shah had called him twice to suggest Prashant Kishor be given an important post in JD(U). Kishor had been Nitish poll strategist in the 2017 Bihar election and lived at Nitish’s official residence.
Interestingly, over two years ago when Nitish was leading the RJD-Congress coalition, the Bihar chief minister had called for a “Sangh-mukt Bharat” in response to Modi’ “Congress-mukt Bharat” electoral campaign catchphrase.
Updated Date: Jan 16, 2019 19:06:11 IST