It is becoming an increasingly uncomfortable combination, the RSS and the BJP. And the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statements justifying the RSS getting involved in political matters can only make things worse. Mr Bhagwat has now said that letting foreign companies into retail is akin to unleashing armed forces on unarmed people. Mr Bhagwat, perhaps in his zeal to put the RSS firmly onto the political centrestage, seems to have forgotten that long ago and far away, his predecessors gave Sardar Patel an undertaking that they would stay out of politics in return for the leader lifting a ban on the organisation. During the Vajpayee years, the RSS did not even raise a squeak when he went to Pakistan. Contrast that with its later fury against LK Advani when he made his Jinnah remarks. Narendra Modi’s challenge will be not just to beat back the Congress but the RSS as well. With India’s youthful demographic, he cannot be seen to endorse the antediluvian views emanating from Nagpur. The RSS, to its discredit, has not evolved its ideology, it still believes that issues like the mandir and keeping out foreign investment excite people. But the more worrying thing is that the RSS is demonstrating that it is in the driver’s seat.
Indian democracy has certainly evolved to a stage where people would be chary of electing a person who is controlled by an extra-constitutional force and that too a regressive one. In recent times, the RSS has not shied away from intervening forcefully in the BJP’s affairs. It minced no words when Mr Advani went into a sulk over the choice of Mr Modi as the prime ministerial candidate.
Ultimately, the BJP has to cut loose from the RSS’ apron strings. It cannot play its role as a party of governance or opposition as the case may be if it has to function according to the dictates of people who have neither been elected nor have any idea about the aspirations of a new India.