The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has distanced itself from the controversy over its stance on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi. The RSS has reiterated its “non-political” posture and asked its cadres to focus on “national issues.”
Comments made by the RSS top brass at the recently concluded three-day Akhil Bhartiya Pratinidhi Sabha in Bangalore set off speculation that the leadership was unhappy with the growing focus on Mr. Modi. On Wednesday, RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said the brief to the cadres was to ensure high voter turnout and drive home the message of ushering in change.
“The country is facing multifarious threats because of the inept handling of affairs in the past 10 years. Since we have widespread grass-roots presence, our cadres will educate people to make an informed choice. We need change for the better,” Mr. Madhav told The Hindu. He said cadres were asked not to canvass for an individual, but to advise voters on issues of governance and make an informed choice.
“There is corruption, threats to national security, destruction of the social fabric; we will flag some of these issues and advice people to choose the next government with due diligence.” On RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat asking cadres not to root for Mr. Modi as PM, Mr. Madhav said: “Our chief’s main concern at the Bangalore meet was that RSS cadres have always been non-political.”
. Our focus area would be the national issues that bother us, not individuals or parties.” Our cadres will only tell people to choose better, experienced people; who those people are is what the parties will go and tell [the voters].”
He tried to downplay the RSS role in the BJP’s functioning, including the recent controversy over the selection of candidates.
“The RSS chief’s views have been misinterpreted. On the opening day of the meet, our joint general secretary said we are happy that a swayamsevak has today emerged as the most popular leader; but we will continue to work on our focus areas,” Mr. Madhav said.