By Arun Srivastava
This is a rare but classical somersault performed by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. In April 2016 he had called upon all non-BJP parties to unite for a “Sangh-mukt Bharat”, an India free of the RSS. But now he would be sharing the stage on October 5 with RSS sarsangchalak Mohan Bhagwat at a huge congregation organized in village Chandwa of Arrah, the native place of dalit icon and former deputy prime minister Jagjivan Ram in honour of the 11th century Hindu theologian Ramanujam.
This meet of the Sangh parishioners has attained importance as Bhagwat is likely to announce a number of strategic measures to strengthen the Sangh and also to have a major say in the running of the Modi government. RSS has already made its intentions clear that Modi has to listen to the advice and suggestions of Sangh and any policy formulation ought to have clearance from the Sangh bosses.
Obviously, Nitish’s presence at this congregation attains much importance. It would be in his presence that the Sangh will announce its future action programme. Nitish would also participate at the “Dharam Sansad” to mark the 1,000th birth anniversary of Ramanujam. The followers of the theologian have also organised a yagna at the village.
The JD(U) leaders, in fact, are quite ebullient at their leader sharing stage with Bhagwat. They feel this eventually elevate his stature. They are quite candid in their approach: “Since we are now in NDA we have to accept the BJP in its entirety. Even during the earlier JDU-BJP regime, Bhagwat had met Nitish at the chief minister’s janata durbar”. But this time it was slightly different. Nitish will be going to Chandwa to listen to what Bhagwat says in his homily.
This has evoked a strong reaction from the erstwhile friends of Nitish, who ridicule him for his conduct. Lalu Yadav tweeted: “Muh Mein Ram, Dimag Mein Nathuram, Tabhi toh bana Palturam.” This visit of Nitish is also seen as a move to improve his relation with the RSS chief. There is apprehension in the JD(U) circles that once the RSS starts asserting itself and plays a proactive role in the functioning of the Modi government, the going for Nitish would become tough. RSS has already made its intentions clear that it would not allow the Modi government a free ride in the matter of economic policies. The RSS is also not happy with the education policy being pursued by the Modi government. The Sangh leaders nurse the view that the education policy must try to focus on and revive the old pattern of education.
However, this line is being opposed by a major section of the Sangh leaders. They hold the view that students must not be denied the privilege and benefits of modern education although it must conform to Indian needs. RSS insiders share the view that there is imperative need to redefine economic, health and education policies being pursued by the Modi government.
The RSS leaders are also critical of the skill development scheme. They hold that it was simply a mechanism to produce cheap skilled working force for the corporate and industrial sector. They find a similarity between the skill development scheme and Macaulay’s education policy. The Vijaya Dashami speech of Bhagwat is likely to unleash new forces sharing the views and perceptions of the Hindutva and Hindu Rashtra. This is more than a report card of the Modi government.
Projection of Modi as the only saffron leader who has the capability to transform India and usher in a new world has not gone well with the RSS. For Sangh this was a step towards projecting personality cult, which is alien to the Sangh culture and ethos. There is a feeling that Modi is getting uncalled for importance, that too at the cost of the Sangh and the party. A between the lines view of Bhagawat’s speech would unravel that his criticism was specially aimed at putting Modi under check. Modi must realize that there is someone keeping a close watch and unlike others he is ruthless and highly critical.
Bhagwat did not conceal his disenchantment with Modi’s two most hyped economic moves, demonetisation and the goods and services tax. These had hit the common people and also the medium and small traders, who form the Sangh-BJP’s support base. The failure to implement the economic policies in right perspective has been responsible for aggravating unemployment. It is not yet clear whether it was coincidental that the criticism of Modi’s economic policy by the former finance minister and veteran BJP leader Yashwant Sinha came two days ahead of Bhagwat’s comments. (IPA Service)