It may not officially have a say in drafting government policy but the RSS is gaining a foothold in the NDA regime by appointing people close to the Sangh to state-run institutions and personal staff of several ministers.
Sources said BJP parliamentarians have been asked to not make direct nominations to ministries for appointments in official bodies, panels, institutions or committees. Any such recommendation has to be sent to the local or state unit of the BJP, which will clear it in consultation with an RSS leader at the appropriate level.
“Our recommendations have to be routed through the BJP district unit to the central unit and then cleared by the RSS and BJP’s the organisational secretary,” a BJP MP told HT.
Another MP said legislators were not even supposed to recommend any names for admissions in state-run Kendriya Vidyalayas on their own and it had to be done in consultation with the party.
Sources said the BJP’s organisational secretary, Ram Lal, as well as Sangh joint general secretaries Krishna Gopal and Dattatrey Hosbole were the key people who scrutinised the recommendations and appointments were made only after their clearance.
The influence of the RSS in the functioning of the government has been at the centre of controversy for over a year with repeated allegations by the Opposition that the RSS was trying to pack important academic bodies and institutions with its own people.
A string of controversial appointments of people with RSS links to the Indian Council of
Historical Research and the Film and Television Institute of India have also triggered a storm of criticism, with opponents saying the Sangh was trying to rewrite history and acquire academic muscle.
But the Hindu organisation seems unfazed by the criticism. It recently intervened to get Nagpur-based leader Chandrakant Ghatore appointed to the Censor board, in the middle of a raging controversy over the Sangh’s role in nominating actor Gajendra Chouhan to head FTII.
“Do you expect us to appoint people from the Left or the Congress? This is normal practice, when a party comes to power, people close to its ideology are appointed to high places in the government. Even most of the ministers come from the same RSS background. What is the big issue in it?” a senior RSS leader asked HT.
Such intervention by the BJP’s ideological fountainhead is not new. Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed to power last May, the RSS has placed more than 30 of its people in important ministries.
People associated with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the RSS’ student wing, the BJP and other affiliates are part of the personal staff of 20 ministers.
The list includes social justice minister Thawarchand Gehlot, agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh, health minister JP Nadda and labour minister Narendra Singh Tomar.
“When I had to appoint my personal secretary, I was recommended some names from the BJP headquarters and was asked to pick one of them,” one of these ministers told HT.
Even offices of junior ministers like Gen VK Singh, Sanjeev Balyan, Dharmendra Pradhan and Sripad Yesso Naik are run by people with an RSS background. Many of them were trained at the Surya Foundation , a Haryana-based charitable organisation close to the Sangh.