Even as he thanked activist Anna Hazare for having praised his rural development activities in the state, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi claimed it was the RSS that had first educated him about Hazare’s work in villages.
The message: Modi took inspiration from Hazare’s work, which he accessed through the Sangh, implying that the RSS itself followed Hazare.
“Respected Annaji, my respect for you is decades old,” Modi wrote to Hazare in an open letter. “Before I entered politics, I was a full-time RSS pracharak. At that time, national leaders of the RSS who came to attend our meetings invariably discussed your rural development activities so that it could be emulated. It has tremendous impact on me. In the past, I also had the good fortune of meeting you.”
In one stroke, Modi has sought to appropriate a slice of the legitimacy Hazare has earned in the last four days for himself as well as the Sangh.
While RSS-affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh was present among the various organisations supporting Hazare’s fast, Ram Madhav even made it to the stage before objections from the audience forced him to leave.
Modi has also gauged the anti-political mood of the middle class, and sought to survive it by saying he was a man of the social sector as an RSS pracharak before joining politics and that he has learnt his lessons in governance from the days before he became a politician.
There are other political messages too. While seeking Hazare’s blessings, Modi said he was from a simple family with no prior connections to power, an oblique attack on political families like the Congress’ first family. He added there were people who were used to vilifying anyone who praised Gujarat, as part of an anti-Modi and anti-Gujarat campaign.