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Modi serves, RSS relishes

A group of sadhus on the Parliament premises on Thursday. (PTI)

New Delhi, July 24: Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted RSS chief Mohanrao Bhagwat and his colleagues for dinner this evening at his Race Course Road residence.

General secretary Suresh “Bhaiyya” Joshi and joint general secretaries Suresh Soni, Dattatreya Hosabale and Krishna Gopal accompanied Bhagwat.

Sources said the dinner was essentially a “thanksgiving”, hosted by Modi to express his gratitude towards and acknowledgment of the RSS’s “support” to his leadership and cooperation with the BJP cadre during the 2014 elections.

No one from the BJP was invited, indicating that unlike Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Modi has an easy equation with the Sangh. In November 2000, Vajpayee had invited then RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan and his colleagues Bhagwat, who was then a general secretary, H.V. Seshadri and Madan Das Devi to dinner. He made it a point to also invite L.K. Advani, then BJP president Bangaru Laxman and Laxman’s predecessor Kushabhau Thakre. “Atalji was never comfortable in a one-on-one situation with the Sangh leaders,” a source recalled.

That was the first and last time that Prime Minister Vajpayee supped with the RSS brass. His relations with Sudarshan later went downhill over several issues, notably economic policies.

BJP and RSS sources said the Modi-Bhagwat association — which goes back a long way to the years when Modi was “discovered” and nurtured by Bhagwat’s father, Madhukar Bhagwat, at that time a “pracharak” in Gujarat — was not expected to follow the Vajpayee-Sudarshan trajectory.

“The main reason is that even the Sangh realises that in spite of all its hard work and dedication (in the Lok Sabha polls), the catalyst for the victory was Modi’s projection as the PM candidate. With the kind of mandate that the BJP won, the Sangh has figured out that it is purposeless to needle Modi,” a source said.

Modi, said RSS sources, was a “pracharak” (Sangh whole-timer) while Vajpayee was a “swayamsevak”. The demoninations “represent the difference between an abiding sense of commitment to the RSS’s ideology and values that a ‘pracharak’ has and a little-more-than-peripheral association a ‘swayamsevak’ brings with him”, a source said. "We are sure that Modi will never let the Sangh down. Even if he takes policy decisions that might upset some of our constituents like he did in Gujarat when he hiked power tariffs across the board, he will never ever betray people’s faith in him, his government and the BJP by tolerating corruption, indiscipline and misdeeds,” the source said.

Earlier in the day, Joshi, Soni, Hosabale and Gopal went to the residence of Union minister and former BJP president Nitin Gadkari for a meeting. New party chief Amit Shah, Shah’s immediate predecessor Rajnath Singh and the general secretary (organisation), Ramlal, were present. Over lunch, they discussed Shah’s prospective team of office-bearers, sources said.

Shah is keen on recasting the BJP’s apparatus to make it look “young and fresh” which, sources said, means that even those party officials who have not made it to Modi’s council of ministers might lose their jobs.