New Delhi, Oct. 19: A Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh move to appoint three seniors instead of one to liaise with the BJP has not only worsened the power play in the faction-ridden party but is being seen as a sign of differences within the purportedly monolithic Sangh hierarchy.
What is agitating BJP insiders most is the feeling that the decision reflects Sangh chief Mohanrao Bhagwat’s lack of trust in his number two, Suresh Soni, who was earlier the sole minder.
BJP sources have described the move as “unprecedented and shocking” for an organisation such as the Sangh with its emphasis on a single chain of command.
Ever since the Sangh created a political party, which originated as the Jan Sangh and morphed into the BJP, the chief or sarsanghchalak has nominated a single senior team-member to coordinate with the party. This member’s word has always been considered final and has never been contested by the Sangh chief.
But about a month ago, the Sangh appointed Suresh “Bhaiyya” Joshi and Dattatreya Hosabale as coordinators along with Soni.
Sangh and BJP sources said this essentially offered factional leaders in the BJP a chance to seek more than one Sangh “patron” to “promote” their individual cases with the sarsanghchalak.
Till the new arrangement, Soni’s writ had run supreme in the BJP. Soni is believed to have “reservations” about Nitin Gadkari getting a second term as party president on the ground that he has become an “embarrassment” for the Sangh because of the controversies he is entangled in.
It is an open secret in the parivar that Soni’s candidate for the top party job is a senior leader considered one of the brightest and most articulate in the BJP and organisationally savvy to boot.
But, the sources said, Bhagwat’s mind is “more or less made up” on another tenure for Gadkari. They said Bhagwat was relieved after Arvind Kejriwal’s “disclosures” on Gadkari proved a damp squib and promptly directed the BJP brass to publicly affirm its solidarity with the party chief.
The sources said Bhagwat had appointed Joshi and Hosabale as additional coordinators because he felt his Sangh colleagues must not become part of the BJP’s factional struggles.
However, instead of correcting the fault-lines in the BJP, the move seems to have had the opposite effect. Faction leaders who aspire to head the party or bag the elusive post of Prime Minister have started tapping the new coordinators through intermediaries, the sources said.
“None of them is exactly on cosy terms with the coordinators. They have approached them through other swayamsevaks who are now in the BJP,” a source said. He added that over the years, senior BJP leaders had become “more and more alienated” from their parent organisation.
Party leaders who hoped to scuttle Gadkari’s chances of a second term using Kejriwal’s “expose” were summoned to the Sangh’s Delhi headquarters on Thursday and told that Gadkari would stay on.
The sources said the issue was not just Gadkari. A Sangh lobby that includes Bhagwat apparently considers Narendra Modi the ideal candidate for Prime Minister. Modi’s chief patron, a Chennai-based Sangh ideologue-cum-chartered accountant, is said to have shaped their view.