New Delhi, March 14: A high-level RSS conclave starting in Jaipur from tomorrow is expected to largely focus on the BJP although the representatives of every Sangh affiliate will be there to mark his or her presence.
The Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha, consisting of delegates from over 30 outfits mentored by the RSS including the women’s wing called the Rashtra Sevika Samiti, congregates annually to run through the activities of its affiliates accomplished in the past year and check the work in progress.
For the past two years or so, the Sangh did not give the BJP any preferential treatment. But this time it will be different.
The RSS has been preoccupied with its in-house problems, arising from the dwindling attendance in its “shakhas” or daily camps of “swayamsevaks”. Prescriptions such as “modernising” the dress code from over-sized “khaki” pants and a black cap to a “smarter” outfit and introducing contemporary sport like cricket and basketball in place of “kabbadi” and “kho-kho” to lure young people never took off.
But with some Assembly elections dominating the calendar this year and the parliamentary polls the next year, Sangh sources said the leaders have marked the BJP as the top priority. The states that will go to polls this year are Karnataka, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and Rajasthan.
Party president Rajnath Singh is camping in Jaipur since Wednesday. He is expected to hold another round of discussions with “sarsanghachalak” Mohanrao Bhagwat and his colleagues before naming his new office-bearers.
It is believed that Bhagwat, apparently unreconciled to his protégé Nitin Gadkari’s ouster as the BJP president, had directed Rajnath that Gadkari must be consulted at every step and his views “taken seriously”.
Those like J.P. Nadda and Dharmendra Pradhan, who were brought in by Gadkari, appointed as general secretaries and tasked with looking after big states and “rewarded” with Rajya Sabha berths, were said to be on tenterhooks in the Rajnath regime. But Gadkari, said sources, might “save their jobs”.
Narendra Modi is the other person with whom Rajnath is in touch on the team’s composition.
The RSS-BJP equation, that was expected to be as “smooth” under Rajnath as it was under Gadkari, was altered by the circumstances in which Gadkari was eased out. Although Bhagwat had backed Gadkari to the hilt, a groundswell from within the BJP that did not want him to get a second chance as party president after he got sucked into financial controversies forced the RSS to give in.
This will be Rajnath’s first spell of working with Bhagwat and nobody would speculate on how their relationship would play out.
Rajnath’s patron in the Sangh is Suresh Soni, third in the hierarchy. He came as an observer to the BJP’s national council earlier this month.
Sources said notwithstanding the sources of potential tension, the RSS was as “determined” as the BJP to not let 2014 pass up as another failed election. “If we do not make it the next time, we are doomed to stay out for another 10 years,” a BJP source said.
This is why Bhagwat’s “interventions” in the post-Gadkari phase of the BJP could be curtailed by seniors like Ashok Singhal, the VHP’s patriarch and Sangh veteran, and Madan Das Devi who had played Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s trouble-shooter whenever the RSS needled the former Prime Minister.
Sources said it was not just the prospect of being out of power again that scared the RSS; it was the threat that if re-elected, the Congress could pursue the cases of “saffron terror”, that implicated its activists, to their logical end.