Photo by Deepak Gupta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
by – An Opinionated Observer
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is now fully out of the closet and calling the shots. Some observers believe it marks the end of Modi as the undisputed leader
“In my beginning is my end”
“In my end is my beginning “
(TS Eliot, The Four Quartets, East Coker)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a handsome tribute to the RSS rank and file when he said on March 12, 2017 at the BJP headquarters in a speech beamed live across the length and breadth of India, and later played on loop by all news channels for nearly 24 hours, these momentous words:
“Chunaao jeetna ek baat hai, lekin BJP ki Sanskriti ko desh ke kone-kone mein pahunchaana, doosri baat hai. Chaar peeddheeyaan Khap gayeen iss karya mein, tab jaakar aaj ye sapna saakaar hua hai”
(Winning Elections is one thing but to take BJP’s culture to every corner of the country is quite another thing altogether. Four generations have been used up before this dream could be fulfilled today “)
The glowing words clearly referred to the contribution made by several generations of dedicated RSS workers. But mere words evidently did not satisfy the RSS, which had already waited in the wings for three quarters of a century for this very hour, and which has painstakingly but swiftly ” normalised” its role as the real power behind the ruling dispensation in Delhi over the past two and a half years.
It would have seemed an alarming, ominous, and even a menacing extra- Constitutional control over an elected Government even as recently as in 2015.
The people’s mandate for development, the corporate mandate for “economic reforms”, and perhaps in some cases for a soft Hindutva, was taken over by RSS’s Hardcore Hindutva agenda of the Hindu Rashtra.
Through a raucous media helping to mould “public opinion” into what appeared to be a consensus, the RSS through its suddenly violently aggressive student wing, the ABVP, through its loosely-affiliated vigilante groups of Gau Rakshaks and often even armed senas (one of which the Hindu Yuva Vahini was formed by Mahant Yogi Adityanath) or even the saffron “revolutionary terrorist” outfits inherited from pre- independence days, such as the infamous ‘Abhinav Bharat’, now openly patronised by the Central Government, and by BJP-ruled states, has taken over the dominant narrative in the popular psyche. And intensified it to a point of no return.
BJP, and by extension Narendra Modi, are now riding a tiger. The virulent forms of harder and harder Hindutva, more and more fanatic, more and more violent, less and less concerned about any adverse consequences, foul-mouthed, reckless, impatient, completely entitled and completely uncivilised, groups like the Shiv Sena, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, and now the Yogi’s own ‘Senas’ have snatched the initiative from a relatively cautious and mature Modi.
Narendra Modi clearly prides himself on being a man of the world, the darling of the NRIs and PIOs, and fancies himself as a jet-setting global diplomat, lionised as he is by the corporates, especially his cronies, hungry to exploit his powerful leadership for personal profit, and ready to invest heavily into his all-conquering Ashwamedha Yagna Yatra across the length and breadth of the country.
Unfortunately, in an Ashwamedha Yagna it is the brave, free-running sacred horse itself, after its signal conquests , has to be offered up as sacrifice in the sacred fire.
Modi, well-versed in the arts and crafts of his parent “cultural organisation” and well aware of the cold ruthlessness for an ‘over- weening collective cause’ that characterises its celibate patriarchs, would have felt the icy tap on his shoulders. “Sangatthan se badaa koi nahin” (No individual, however great, is greater than the organisation (read the RSS for organisation and its sacred cause of the Hindu Rashtra).
After all, a man cannot serve his ‘Nagpur Masters’ and the ‘Delhi Meddlers’ at the same time, even though he may dodge the Lok Sabha and ignore the Rajya Sabha, and in fact treat the Parliament with the contempt he thinks it deserves.
To come back to Modi’s hour of glory on March 12, 2017 after the declaration of the UP and Uttarakhand poll results, and power in Goa and Manipur was very much within reach of money power and masterly manipulation, it was literally “Roses Roses all the way, with ne’er a spray of Yew” for BJP’s Rock Star and its undisputed single biggest vote catcher, crowd puller, demagogue and election winner in the entire history of the saffron party.
But alas, earthly fame is always fickle, public memory is notoriously short, all good things must come to an end, and into each life some rain must fall.
*The author is a retired bureaucrat with an abiding interest in politics