First there were the dismissals, then the hope that this would be a flash in the pan and now a sense of realism that this is a trend that is here to stay. And acknowledging this is no less than the RSS, the mentor organisation of the BJP. Though there are conflicting reports on what exactly was said at the recent RSS meet near Hyderabad, the leadership of the organisation has apparently asked the BJP not to be complacent about the new kid on the block, AAP. This is probably occasioned by the manner in which Delhi proved to be the tide breaker for the BJP in the assembly elections in which it emerged victorious in three states only to find itself falling short of seats in Delhi in the face of the AAP tidal wave.
The RSS is quite right in cautioning the party given that AAP’s plans to contest the Lok Sabha polls is now solidifying and more and more support for it is pouring in. But while telling the BJP to not take things for granted, the RSS needs to do a bit of introspection. The BJP has never been able to shake off the tag of being the handmaiden of the RSS. The party has often been held hostage to the RSS’ antediluvian thinking, especially on the Hindutva issue. At a time when people are aggressively seeking good governance, the RSS’ ideology and its burning desire to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya have little resonance. The organisation’s outdated swadeshi mantra too will cut little ice with today’s electorate. Yet, for all his surging popularity, the RSS keeps a tight leash on BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. It is no secret that the RSS had to approve his candidature. An extra-constitutional organisation calling the shots in a democratically-elected party can serve no greater good for the latter, in fact, it is a huge impediment. The AAP challenge can only be met if Mr Modi spells out his terms of governance, his economic vision, his foreign policy parameters and his blueprint for the future of a demographically young India. The RSS has been stuck in a time warp for as long as most people can remember. Its world vision is moored in Nagpur while the BJP needs to fashion a resurgent global India.
These are the contradictions that Mr Modi will have to grapple with. If the RSS wants its protégé to succeed, it should know when to leave well alone and let the party fashion its own agenda. AAP certainly is a threat to the BJP and other parties. But the BJP has an in-built disadvantage in the disproportionate influence that the RSS wields over it. The RSS has said its piece, now it must move into the background as the electoral battle begins.