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Back to ideology

india Updated: Mar 22, 2009 00:24 IST
Pankaj Vohra

The appointment of Mohanrao Bhagwat, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) general secretary (sarkaryavah) as the sixth sarsangchalak will have far-reaching implications for the Sangh parivaar. It comes at a time when the entire parivaar appears to be divided, while open infighting continues within the BJP.

Bhagwat (58), whose father was the prant pracharak for Gujarat, represents a generational change in the RSS. He is a stickler for ideology and the basic tenets of Hindutva. His ascension could spell trouble for those in the BJP who have thrived without adhering to the Sangh’s basic beliefs.

RSS insiders have always considered Bhagwat to be in the mould of the second RSS sarsangchalak, M.S.Golwalkar, who believed that to change society, it was important to change individuals through ideology. The debate over this thesis had raged in the Sangh for long and Balasaheb Deoras, who succeeded Golwalkar and later Rajinder Singh and K.Sudarshan, pursued a different policy. This was perhaps also because they worked closely with senior BJP leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani when the BJP was doing well.

The RSS believed it important to first seize power, then use it to drive change. But there was none in six-and-a-half years of NDA rule, and the BJP also compromised on core beliefs.

The new chief may ensure that there is a firm commitment to ideology, and he is likely to enforce discipline. Bhagwat never thought the projection of Advani as a prime ministerial candidate was a great idea. But he went with the minority view so there could be unanimity in the RSS.

Bhagwat now spells trouble for Advani and some members of his coterie unless they fall in with RSS ideology. He also has deep regard for Murli Manohar Joshi, who could emerge stronger if he wins the Varanasi parliamentary seat.