Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief, Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat on Friday expressed confidence that its political arm, the BJP, would survive the crisis it is facing and “rise from the ashes”.
The “jolt” of defeat in the 2009 Lok Sabha election had put it “off-balance” from which it had yet to recover. Time and again party leaders were told that it should put in place “systems and procedures” to deal with problems of indiscipline. If it doesn’t, the party will suffer.
At a press conference at the RSS Jhandewalan headquarters here, he repeatedly referred to the interview he had recently given to Times Now where he suggested that a “generational change” in every organisation was “a universal rule” and “necessary”, but “when and where was for the BJP to decide”.
He repeatedly said on that question he had already said what he wanted to and would not repeat it. “Whenever we are asked for advice, we give it without discrimination, without hesitation or inhibition, but keeping in mind the issue of respect for a person”.
In the BJP this was being interpreted differently by different sections in the party. There were those who were happy that he had not said anything directly about any imminent change in the position of Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani, and there were others who felt the message for change was clear in his repeated references to his earlier interview. There was also the stern line that the RSS does not feel the need to repeat a message. Once is enough.
He indicated that BJP President Rajnath Singh in his meeting with him on Thursday night had told him that the party would be able to arrive at a consensus. Although he did not spell out what the consensus would be about, it was seen as a reference to leadership change. Mr. Singh’s tenure as party president is due to come to and end later this year.
He rejected a suggestion that the RSS had weakened and therefore could not put an end to squabbling in the BJP. There would be “stock taking” on whether the BJP had fulfilled the role that had been carved out for it by the Sangh, but the RSS was not thinking of floating another political outfit.
“It is too much now” was how Mr. Bhagwat had described the infighting in the BJP just 10 days ago. Since then several senior leaders – Jaswant Singh (now expelled), Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha – have openly attacked the leadership, especially Mr. Advani, and have virtually charged him with being economical with the truth on the Kandahar hijacking episode.
Yet again, Mr. Jaswant Singh has in another recent interview to Outlook magazine charged him with being “consumed by the ambition to become prime minister”, he had directed party MPs to display cash in Parliament and he was “not fit to serve the interests of the country”.
On Friday his response to this new level of infighting was: “This is not the kind of behaviour we expect from our swayamsevaks.” While he refused to give his views on banning any book, he went out of his way to shower praises on Mr. Arun Shourie as a “very respected, intellectual and senior journalist” but politely “rejected” his suggestion that the RSS “take over the BJP as it is not our job.”