Sangh Singh Song
The dramatic events that preceded the change-of-guard are a classic testimony to how subservient is the BJP’s relationship with the RSS. With Hindutva terror in focus, the RSS needs to generate enough heat to stop the net from closing in
Poornima Joshi Delhi
The dynamics of ideological discourse have overshadowed merits of political pragmatism in the saffron quarters with the mother organisation, the RSS, imposing its favourite, Rajnath Singh, once more as president of its political front, the BJP. A clear reflection of just how successfully the RSS is currently employing the BJP to voice its concerns was seen in the immediate aftermath of Singh’s election when the newly-appointed BJP president, with his latest comrade-in-arms, Sushma Swaraj, were seen agitating at Jantar Mantar over Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde’s sudden outburst about the Sangh’s involvement in various terror strikes across the country.
This is not to say that Arun Jaitley or LK Advani would not have come to the RSS’s rescue when the UPA seems to be unearthing its links with various terror outfits. But, let us just presume that it is rather difficult to imagine either Jaitley or Advani publicly declaring that “no Hindu can ever be a terrorist” or that “Parliament will not be allowed to function” if the home minister persists with his line on Hindutva terror.
These pragmatic parliamentary leaders in the BJP may be intermittently inclined to sprinkle the public discourse with ideological issues if the situation so warrants. After all, it was Advani who mounted the chariot to launch a journey that resulted in the demolition of the Babri mosque and a series of riots and bloodbath. This was what Advani calculated as the need of the hour when he edged the VHP out to take over the Ramjanmabhoomi movement. In his calculation, the politics of kamandal was the upper caste Hindu retort to the recommendations of the Mandal Commission that promised reservation in jobs and educational institutions to Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
However, neither Advani nor his one-time protégé, Jaitley (relations are not believed to be as good as they once were), are as wedded to the RSS’s concerns as someone like Singh who owes his rise in the ranks almost entirely to his proximity to the Sangh. So, it is hard to see them mouthing such ludicrous spiel as “we will not allow Parliament to function”. The new BJP chief has been handpicked by the RSS with the sole purpose of enhancing the ideological quota in the mainstream political narrative that someone like Advani would like to mould on issues of more contemporary relevance, for instance, corruption.
The dramatic events that preceded the change-of-guard are a classic testimony to just how intimate and subservient is the BJP’s relationship with the RSS. A leader of Advani’s stature had to depend on an extraneous factor, the threat of income tax raids, to prevent the RSS from foisting Nitin Gadkari as BJP chief for one more term of three years. Before that, neither the multiple controversies surrounding Gadkari’s Purti Power and Sugar Ltd, the letters he wrote demanding payments for contractors in the controversial Ghosikurd dam project, the suspect allotment in BJP-run Chhattisgarh of coal blocks to his friend, Ajay Sancheti, whom he managed to push to the Rajya Sabha, the public allegations of “auction” of seats in the BJP by senior leader Yashwant Sinha, nor his less than becoming public conduct, were a hindrance to his re-election.
Besides the new arrests, there is the curious case of Sunil Joshi, active in the RSS in Dewas and Mhow from the 1990s to 2003, who was allegedly involved in the Samjhauta and Ajmer shrine blasts. Joshi has been killed in ‘curious’ circumstances
The RSS was ready to push Gadkari in a year when the party faces direct contests with the Congress in the Delhi, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh assembly elections which will be immediately followed by the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. To Advani’s credit, he persisted in opposing RSS’s decision till the very end, with the IT probe into Gadkari’s companies coming as an endorsement of his stand. Even then, the Sangh did not concede Advani’s proposal to anoint Swaraj as the party president. Not because the RSS has any particular grievance against her, but because she happened to be “LK’s candidate”. The apparatchiks in Nagpur then pushed their second choice: Singh.
That brings us back to why the Sangh was so keen on Singh; not least because of the latter’s stated belief that “no Hindu can ever be a terrorist”. It is not clear whether the UPA is serious about uncovering the links in a series of murderous blasts on the Samjhauta Express and in Malegaon, Ajmer, Mecca Masjid et al. However, the RSS would like to halt the government in its tracks.
The signs are a bit ominous. The monthly report card of the Union home ministry, released on January 10, shows that, during December, 2012, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested four accused involved in bomb blasts and killings at Malegaon in 2006, Samjhauta Express in February 2007, Mecca Masjid, Hyderabad, in May 2007 and in Malegaon in September 2008. Out of these four, Rajendra Chaudhury, Dhan Singh and Manohar were involved in planting bombs in Malegaon; Rajendra Chaudhury and Tej Ram had planted bombs in Mecca Masjid and Dhan Singh was involved in bomb blasts in Malegaon.
The home ministry states that, during interrogation, “the accused persons have admitted their roles in three undetected sensational old crimes, namely, (i) shooting and injuring a lady nun (Leena) in Narwar Police Station of Ujjain (MP), (ii) throwing of grenades at a mosque in Jammu on January 9, 2004 in which two persons had died and 15 others were injured, (iii) firing at SAR Gilani in New Delhi (an acquitted accused of Parliament attack case) in February 2005, (iv) killing of Muzeeb Lala, a Pathan in Ujjain (MP), and (v) killing of Ramesh Ninama (a key witness in the murder case of Piar Singh Ninama of Indore)”. The home ministry did not hesitate in pointing out that all the accused had links with the RSS.
Besides the new arrests, there is the curious case of Sunil Joshi, active in the RSS in Dewas and Mhow from the 1990s to 2003, who was allegedly involved in the Samjhauta and Ajmer shrine blasts. Joshi has been killed in ‘curious’ circumstances.
Then there is Lokesh Sharma, who was arrested in connection with the Samjhauta and Mecca Masjid blasts and has been an RSS ‘nagar karyavah’ in Deogarh. The absconding duo of Sandeep Dange and Ramji Kalsangre, believed to be key organisers of the Samjhauta and Mecca Masjid blasts, are apparently on the run: they are believed to have been eliminated by their own associates for fear of discovery.
However, neither Advani nor his one-time protégé, Jaitley (relations are not believed to be as good as they once were), are as wedded to the RSS’s concerns as someone like Singh who owes his rise in the ranks almost entirely to his proximity to the Sangh
There is Swami Aseemanand who was active with Vanavasi Kalyan Parishad in the Dangs, Gujarat, and has been arrested for involvement in the Samjhauta, Mecca Masjid and Ajmer blasts. Mukesh Vasani is another RSS activist in Godhra, Gujarat, who has been arrested for involvement in the Ajmer blasts. Devender Gupta, RSS pracharak in Mhow and Indore, has been arrested for involvement in the Mecca Masjid blasts. Rajender alias Samundar, RSS varg vistarak, has been arrested for involvement in the Samjhauta and Mecca Masjid blasts. Chandrashekhar Leve, RSS pracharak in Shahjahanpur, has been arrested for involvement in the Mecca Masjid blasts, and Kamal Chauhan, RSS activist, has been arrested for involvement in the Samjhauta and Mecca Masjid blasts. Besides Sadhvi Pragya’s closeness to the Sangh and her involvement in Hindutva terror has been meticulously documented.
The NIA has still not arrested Indresh, a top member of the RSS’s executive committee, but he was interrogated in 2010 and is known to have been close to Kalsangre and Dange. The RSS needs to generate enough heat to stop the net from closing in.
The BJP has upped the anté with its president threatening to disrupt the upcoming budget session of Parliament. In all of this, the BJP’s real issues have been sidetracked. There are crucial decisions to take such as whether and how to project Narendra Modi who has made no secret of his ambition for the top job, how to prepare for the upcoming polls, and curb factionalism. For the moment, it looks like RSS concerns have taken precedence over political issues.