Thursday, Aug 11, 2022

A Divided Hindu Parivar?

The divisions within BJP are for the world to see. But do some apparently mixed signals from the RSS suggest that there are divisions in the parent body too?

According to media hype the BJP crisis seemed to have abated after the intervention of RSS boss Mohan Bhagwat. Mr Bhagwat impressed journalists. Without once suggesting direct interference in the affairs of the BJP he made clear that it was RSS clout that counted. And his generalized opinion about the need for a generational change in the BJP indicated that sooner rather than later Mr LK Advani was on his way out. But after all the brouhaha did not Mr Advani have his way? At the end of it all, Mr Advani will operationalize the change at a time of his choosing. The forthcoming assembly polls preclude immediate change. Who knows what more developments might occur to further delay change? Mr Madan Das Devi who has excellent rapport with Mr Advani will be the middle man monitoring relations between RSS and BJP. Mr Advani’s loyalists continue to be front runners in the new arrangement. So what did Mr Bhagwat substantively achieve?

On the other hand there are distinct signs that not only BJP but the RSS itself might be a victim of confusion. According to the grapevine, when Mr Bhagwat replaced Mr K Sudharshan as boss of the RSS there was an element of coercion to bring about the change. Such coercion to effect change at the highest level of the organization was totally alien to RSS tradition. After being replaced, Mr Sudharshan left Nagpur and set up base in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He gives every indication of remaining active.

One day after Mr Bhagwat conferred with Mr Advani at the latter’s residence, Mr Sudharshan called on Mr Advani. Was this meeting held after consultation with Mr Bhagwat or was it Mr Sudharshan’s singular initiative? It might be recalled that after the release of Mr Jaswant Singh’s book on Jinnah, Mr Sudharshan was the only leader in the entire Sangh Parivar to opine that Mahatma Gandhi too shared some responsibility for the Partition of India.

Mr Sudharshan’s meeting with Mr Advani was followed by two events in quick succession. First, senior BJP MP and former minister Pyareylal Khandelwal wrote a letter with copies to Advani, Rajnath Singh and Bhagwat stating that Jaswant Singh should be reinstated in the party because his expulsion violated the constitutional procedures of the party. Mr Jaswant Singh was not even served a show cause notice but summarily expelled over telephone. Mr Khandelwal’s objection is certainly valid. In his letter Mr Khandelwal also alleged that certain leaders had ganged up against Mr Jaswant Singh. The letter pointed out the differential treatment meted out to Mr Arun Shourie who was asked merely to clarify his openly ant-party remarks. Earlier another senior leader Mr Sunderlal Patwa, also coincidentally from Madhya Pradesh, criticized Mr Shourie for his ignorance about how the RSS functions.

Secondly, quick on the heels of Mr Advani’s meeting with Mr Sudharshan, Mrs Sushma Swaraj rushed to Mr Jaswant Singh to persuade him to resign from the post of Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament. Mr Jaswant Singh reportedly demurred. Mr Advani himself met the Speaker. According to media speculation, he went to discuss the same topic. After Mr Khandelwal’s letter, is there some panic about Mr Jaswant Singh’s future ties with the party?

The divisions within BJP are for the world to see. But do some apparently mixed signals from the RSS suggest that there are divisions in the parent body too? Top RSS leaders are meeting in Haridwar to discuss matters. The outcome of that meeting might prove interesting.