The presence of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) among the top leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been greatly reduced by the exit of high-profile general secretaries Ram Madhav and B Muralidhar Rao.
The party has traditionally drawn talented RSS workers. Ram Madhav had certainly played a very successful inning as the General Secretary and this sparked speculation that he might be given a place in the Council of Ministers. The same applies to Rao and the other two general secretaries Anil Jain and Saroj Pandey, who have been removed. But there is no indication of a new assignment yet.
BL Santosh is now the only leader from RSS in the party's command center among Santosh generals. As the organizing secretary, it is a deputation by the union in any case. In the past, RSS campaigners have gained a lot of popularity in BJP. People like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi continued to pursue political careers, while others like KN Govindacharya and Sanjay Joshi remained mired in controversies.
What makes RSS pracharak or former pracharak valuable for the party? This question has been easily answered. He is disciplined, intelligent, ideologically committed, accustomed to hard work and constant travel, and is capable of out-of-the-box thinking.
It is difficult to assess the other. There are many factors that make them necessary for the party as well as irrelevant. He is inspired by the independent thinker, the outspoken (who paid Govindacharya's career), and performance, which brings him into the limelight and makes him the target of internal rivalry.
Vajpayee was famously outspoken. As prime minister, he walked along with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its leading organizations on several occasions. He would either catch his way or bump into the path.
Narendra Modi himself was quite an individualist. When the Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister was offered in 2001, he said that he refused on the grounds that he would take full responsibility of the state or not at all. The BJP leadership supported and he became the CM. Everything else is history.
Ram Madhav will be evaluated by BJP for two reasons. First, his ability to complete difficult tasks is unquestionable. He was asked to pursue BJP in Jammu and Kashmir and North-East, he fulfilled both. Second, he enjoys a large network in the global diplomatic community.
For the first time, the RSS created a front for the world thanks to two decades of continuous effort. As a result of that effort, RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Rao Bhagwat addressed global media representatives and interacted with several ambassadors.
Many reasons have been given for his exit. One is that his constant preoccupation with the media bothers BJP President JP Nadda. Also violates the RSS principle of avoiding fame. Although to be fair, he was originally brought to Delhi. To interact with the national media. Madhav has also run the India Foundation, an independent thinktank run that has hosted several high-profile events, sparking internal rivalry.
Four of the eight BJP general secretaries were originally removed to make way for wider regional and caste representation. The newly appointed Tarun Chugh represents Punjab, Dilip Saikia, D Purandeswari, and CT Ravi in the north-east, while DK Gautam, a prominent Dalit face, has been elevated to the post of Deputy Secretary-General.
Three general secretaries, Kailash Vijayvargiya, Bhupendra Yadav and Arun Singh, who won the trust of Home Minister and former BJP president Amit Shah, have been retained. This brings us to the question of whether the BJP is actively trying to make itself more independent of the RSS or is it an inevitable result of the changing character of the party. If the key ministries can be handled by non-union ministers, then the party cannot be left far behind.
With the expansion of the BJP, it is reasonable to expect that those who are recruited from outside the traditional Sangh education, such as Mukul Roy, will be given responsibility, as a result of which the party may be leaning towards the RSS due to ideological weakness.