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Decoding RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's 'ahankar' sting at Modi

DELHI DIARIES | Naveen Patnaik's graceful exit wins heart, Rashtriya Janata Dal leaders under stress ahead of Bihar assembly polls, and more

The Editorial Board Published 16.06.24, 10:23 AM
Telling tales

Telling tales Sourced by the Telegraph

Sting in the tale

The stinging criticism by the president of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Mohan Bhagwat, earlier this week has left many in the Bharatiya Janata Party wondering about the reason behind such a rare show of aggression. In an almost direct attack on Narendra Modi, Bhagwat disapproved of the “ahankar” of the “sevak”, condemned the “bitter” election campaign that endangered social harmony, and opined that the Opposition should be treated as a “counterpart” and not as an “opponent”. Two possible causes for the discord between the BJP and its ideological fountainhead are doing the rounds in the corridors of Lutyens’ Delhi. Significantly, Modi had spent a night in Nagpur during the first round of his campaign. He had reached the RSS headquarters late in the night to ensure that his visit remained a secret. One section believes that during his stay, Modi deliberately did not meet the sarsanghchalak (RSS chief). According to others, Bhagwat did not show any interest in meeting Modi, being upset over the BJP excluding the sangh from poll planning. However, both causes confirm that no meeting took place between Modi and Bhagwat. After his Nagpur stay, Modi took to divisive campaigning, flagging the threat of Muslims confiscating the mangalsutras of Hindu women if the Opposition came to power.


Graceful exit

A graceful gesture by the Biju Janata Dal president, Naveen Patnaik, won the hearts of thousands watching the swearing-in ceremony of the first-ever BJP government in Odisha on Wednesday. Patnaik went to the ceremony and took his seat on the dais among senior BJP leaders. He did not look dejected on being defeated after remaining in power uninterruptedly for 24 years.

The Union ministers, Amit Shah, JP Nadda and Dharmendra Pradhan, greeted him on the dais. Everyone was surprised to see the elegance of the ‘Tall Man’ Patnaik. Towards the end of the ceremony, the prime minister, Narendra Modi, walked up to Patnaik, held his hand for a few minutes, and they exchanged pleasantries akin to two friends meeting after a long time. Patnaik did not display any grudge against those who hurled abuses at him during the poll campaign.

Under stress

Rashtriya Janata Dal leaders are under stress these days over their prospects in the 2025 assembly polls in Bihar. While overseeing the preparations for the Lok Sabha elections, the party chief, Lalu Prasad, had warned the candidates that they should also lead in votes from each of the assembly constituencies that fall under their Lok Sabha constituency, failing which they would not be given tickets for the state polls. The RJD lost 19 out of the 23 parliamentary seats that it contested, adding up to around 114 assembly constituencies. The ticket hopefuls for these seats are thus on tenterhooks. “We are worried about our dreams of becoming MLAs because Laluji... does not take losses lightly,” an RJD MLA said. Another wondered whether he should visit temples to seek divine help.

Better mood

People have been worried about the well-being of the chief minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, who has allegedly been showing signs of dementia. But there is now a sudden spring in his steps, a smile on his lips and a twinkle in his eyes with the dementia-like symptoms receding. The Janata Dal (United) president seems more like his earlier self. This was evident in his speech at the National Democratic Alliance meeting.

The JD(U)’s stellar performance in the Lok Sabha polls — it won 12 out of 16 seats it contested — seems to have brought about this positive change. It made Nitish one of the two most sought-after allies of the BJP. “Happiness is the key to good health and Nitishji is happy because he has now got the power to wield at the Centre...” a party leader confided.

Read the subtext

A prerna sthal has been constructed in the Parliament complex for statues of national heroes, much like Coronation Park in North Delhi, which hosts many of the British-era statues that once dotted the city. The subtext is unmistakable: the Modi government is doing to the Indian icons what the post-Independence governments had done to the representatives of the British raj .

Loss of face

The Karnataka deputy CM, DK Shivakumar, has taken a beating with his brother, DK Suresh, losing from the family bastion of Bengaluru Rural. Worse, Suresh lost to the poli­tical novice, CN Manjunath, whose only connection to politics is his father-in-law and former PM, HD Deve Gowda. The principal troubleshooter of the state Congress is thus seeking a way to regain his turf.

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