New Delhi, Sept. 15: Former RSS sarsanghachalak K.S. Sudarshan passed away in Raipur this morning after a heart attack. He was 81.
Sudarshan helmed the RSS from 2000 to 2009, almost half of his tenure coinciding with Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s reign as Prime Minister.
Thought to be obsessively “swadeshi” and suspicious of the “foreign” tag, one of his many proposals to the NDA government was that Air India should use earthern khullars to serve water and beverages instead of plastic cups.
Under Sudarshan, the RSS emerged as a parallel power centre to the BJP, and Vajpayee’s aides regarded the soft-spoken leader as their Prime Minister’s “greatest tormentor”.
“A frog in the well” was how one senior aide described him after Sudarshan vetoed a proposal to solicit foreign investments in information technology and communications on the ground that it would lead to espionage on “state secrets”.
He also spoke against the Indian Constitution as an “irrelevant legacy of the Empire” and in the process, was lambasted by the BJP’s Dalits.
A gold medallist in engineering from Jabalpur University, Sudarshan was drawn to the RSS from childhood.
When Vajpayee found he was too much of a baggage for his government, he prevailed on the Sangh collegium to send him into seclusion in Nagpur from Delhi.
Sudarshan hit back at Vajpayee once the BJP lost power in 2004. He was the first to openly speak of the need for a generational transformation in the party.
His suggestion was eventually taken seriously by the RSS that in 2008 discreetly eased him out and brought a younger Mohanrao Bhagwat.
Little was heard of Sudarshan after the change of guard. Until last month, when he reportedly lost his way when on a morning walk in Mysore where he was staying with a relative. Sudarshan was eventually tracked down by the police.