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Is RSS HQ becoming Narendra Modi’s 10 Janpath?

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February 26, 2015, 4:48 am IST Economic Times in ET Commentary | India | ET

By Ajoy Bose

Are we witnessing an uncanny replay of the power struggle between former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his party boss Sonia Gandhi that ultimately destroyed the authority and credibility of the UPA? The continuing tussle between the present Premier Narendra Modi and his ideological mentor RSS raises disturbing parallels of a similar conflict of interests within the ruling establishment. Although these are early days for the Modi government which is yet to complete a year in office there is already a question mark on whether it is hurtling towards the same denouement as the previous regime.

Consider the close resemblance between the two political scenarios. Singh handpicked by Sonia Gandhi over Congress veterans to be her proxy PM started working at cross purposes to each other because their interests were quite inimical. In a remarkably similar manner Modi chosen by the RSS to be the BJP’s PM candidate despite fierce resistance from party seniors are increasingly treading on each other’s toes because their agendas are in sharp variance.

Singh was driven by a reforms agenda promoting breakneck industrial advancement that directly clashed with the populist course suggested by the NGO group and Congress apparatchiks who constituted the coterie at 10 Janpath. The same battle is being reenacted today as the Modi development juggernaut flounders upon the twin RSS speed breakers of a divisive communal agenda and the Swadeshi bogey. In both cases governance and policymaking have been the biggest casualties regardless of the ideological posturing by the two sides – Hindutva or secular, pro-multinational or for local farmers.

Interestingly, the convulsions within the two successive ruling establishments have been propelled by intrinsic contradictions and not by a personality clash or a deep rooted conspiracy by any group to seriously destabilize the government. In the case of the UPA, Singh himself remained on fairly warm personal terms with Sonia Gandhi till the last despite not being on the same page as her advisers. Nor did the National Advisory Council or the party bosses deliberately plot the downfall of the Manmohan Singh government knowing as they did they too would be buried.

The same holds true for Modi who is still regarded as their political mainstay by the RSS and all its affiliates. Not a single one of them would wish ill of the current regime let alone deliberately work for the detriment of the first majority government of the BJP – a huge source of pride for the entire Sangh Parivar. Yet it is precisely this proprietary stake in the Modi government that emboldens the RSS chief and an assortment of Sadvhis and Sants to chant their Hindutva rants or the votaries of Swadeshi to agitate against the amended Land Bill and other moves to push big ticket foreign investment.

The situation is further compounded by the dim view taken by the technocrat advisors of both Singh and Modi about the extra-constitutional powers sought to be exercised respectively by 10 Janpath and the RSS headquarters in Jhandewalan. Indeed the same sentiments of derision and resentment heard on Tuesday about Congress ‘ jholawalas’ are now being regurgitated about ‘Sanghi loonies’. For the Sangh Parivar it is difficult to stomach such contempt from close aides of a prime minister it helped to anoint just as it was for the Gandhi family to being rubbished by some members of Singh’s PMO.

It is an irony of history that despite the sharp contrast between a 56-inch-chest rockstar leader like Modi and the mild professorial Manmohan Singh he has landed in the same soup.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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