When Dattatreya Hosabale, the RSS’s (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) sahsarkaryavah (joint general secretary), was chosen for the role of Sar Karyavah (general secretary) on March 20, it became clear that the RSS was on the verge of a paradigm shift, or, as some have put it, a generational change. The RSS has ensured that leaders from nearly the same generation of the classroom will be governing the Sangh, government, and politics for the next few years. As a result, the recent improvements in RSS are important both in terms of inclusions and exits.
PM Modi’s election in 2014 marked the end of the Atal-Advani era for the BJP. It also put an end to the animosity between the RSS and the BJP, which had arisen largely due to the saffron party’s political compulsions or pragmatism, which had thwarted the RSS’ demands for idealism. Since 2014, the BJP has changed faces, but the RSS’s youngest ever sarsanghchalak, Mohan Bhagwat, has continued to surround himself with men from the Atal-Advani era, including Suresh Joshi, also known as Bhaiyyaji Joshi, and Suresh Soni. In truth, Bhaiyyaji Joshi served as general secretary for 12 years. Joshi, who was born 45 days before Independence, belonged to a generation of RSS leaders who rose from the ranks.
Mohan Bhagwat, Dattatreya Hosabale, and Narendra Modi are the three men in the Sangh Parivar who now have the most say in how the outfit and its political arm are handled. And they’re both from the same RSS classroom generation. The first factor to consider is age. Suresh Soni and Bhaiyyaji Joshi, both in their late seventies, reflect a different age. On September 11, 1950, Mohan Bhagwat was born (age 70). PM Modi shares the same birthday as Bhagwat, September 17, 1950. Hosabale, who is 66 years old, is the youngest of the three. As a result of his promotion, it’s been predicted that he’ll be in charge of the RSS in five years.
Their entry into RSS and subsequent growth occurred at about the same time and in the same political environment. In 1977, Bhagwat was appointed the Pracharak of Akola, Maharashtra. Modi joined the RSS full-time in 1971. During the Emergency, he, too, operated undercover because the RSS leadership was a prime target. In 1978, Modi was named Sambhag Pracharak (regional organiser), in charge of RSS activities in Surat and Vadodara. In 1972, Hosabale joined the ABVP. He was detained and imprisoned for 16 months under the infamous Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA). In 1978, he became a full-time RSS organiser.
The Emergency shaped the future, destiny and political orientation of the three men with the same ideology. When their organisation was banned in the mid-1970s, they were in the midst of their formative years of activism. Between 1975 and 1977, their political battle cry was “Congress Mukt Bharat.”
Despite the ban, RSS volunteers established underground groups when fundamental rights were suspended and opposition was prohibited. The organisation secretly released and circulated documents and literature that the censored media were unable to disseminate. Its cadres formed networks of leaders from various political parties both within and outside the prison to coordinate the campaign. It was a crucial time for the RSS, and once the ban was lifted in 1977, along with the Emergency, things began to change. The level of support provided to Sangh activists had not been seen since 198 when the organisation was chastised and investigated for its role in Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. It was a watershed moment for Hindutva politics, and Bhagwat, Modi, and Hosabale rose on fertile ground that had previously been aggressive.
In the RSS, the Bhagwat-Modi-Hosabale trio represents a new generation. Bhagwat and Modi have set a new precedent in comparison to the Vajpayee-Sudarshan age. PM Modi is more adamant about core values than Vajpayee, and the new sarsanghchalak is more versatile than Sudarshan, so the working relationship has vastly improved.
Written by- Shivangi Goel
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