POLITICS
19/10/2018 11:30 AM IST | Updated 19/10/2018 11:30 AM IST

Mohan Bhagwat Asked RSS Members To Choose What’s Best For The Country. What Does That Mean For The BJP?

RSS chief Bhagwat and general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi have made it clear that the Narendra Modi government cannot expect their complete support in the upcoming elections, said an RSS member.

A file photo of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat (left) with BJP president Amit Shah.
Hindustan Times via Getty Images
A file photo of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat (left) with BJP president Amit Shah.

NAGPUR, Maharashtra—In most of his speeches in the past four years in Nagpur, be it in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's (RSS) third-year training conclusion programmes or the Vijayadashami functions, Mohan Bhagwat has communicated his approval of the Narendra Modi government's policies, at times specifically lauding schemes. But on Thursday, when he delivered his last Vijayadashami speech before next year's general election, Bhagwat had more demands and suggestions for the central government than praise.

The RSS chief made it clear that the outfit wants the Bharatiya Janata Party government to deliver on the Ram Mandir issue.

"As an organisation supporting the Ram Janmabhoomi Andolan, we reiterate that Ram Mandir be constructed at Ram Janmabhoomi at the earliest. There should be an instant decision. We want the government to bring a law and construct the temple. Temple should be built in whichever way it is possible," the RSS chief said in his speech, considered the most important one for the Sangh Pariwar.

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray also brought up the Ram Mandir issue at the party's annual Dussehra rally, saying he would visit Ayodhya on 25 November.

"We fully agree with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat that the government should immediately begin construction of the Ram Mandir," Thackeray said.

Bhagwat also took a dig at the government.

"People say you are in power, so why haven't you built it (Ram Temple) yet. But it's a misperception that change in government fulfils your demands," he added.

On Wednesday, a day before Bhagwat's speech, a political observer had toldHuffPost India that the RSS does not want the Modi-Amit Shah duo to come back to power.

Bhagwat also expressed concern over the social situation in the country and said that he doesn't feel like watching the news these days because of "depressing news reports".

"The government works slowly. That's the case for all the governments. But the people, who are unhappy and aggrieved, can be manipulated (by unwanted elements)... one has to control one's behaviour and language. Terror can't help you be in power for long," he said, citing the fall of Soviet Russia.

Be thoughtful and give preference to the country's good. We (the RSS) have never backed any particular political party and we never will

Significantly, the RSS chief also refrained from appealing to people to vote for any particular party, saying that the outfit never backed any political party.

"Don't attach importance to caste, region and other considerations while voting. Be thoughtful and give preference to the country's good. We (the RSS) have never backed any particular political party and we never will," Bhagwat told RSS workers.

In 2013, the RSS under Bhagwat had taken an unusually open political line. All RSS members were asked to consolidate behind the BJP before the 2014 elections.

Last week, RSS general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi had said, "We all know who is the king at present. In today's democracy, the leaders of government are considered kings... In today's democracy, politicians think of themselves as supreme. They think like this and even we have accepted it... But it is a fact that satta (power) cannot bring change in society."

According to an RSS member from Nagpur, Bhagwat and Joshi have made it clear that the Modi government cannot expect the RSS's complete backing in the upcoming elections.

"They will make Modi and Shah come and beg to them. No one is allowed to grow bigger than the organization in Sangh Parivar. Modi tried it but the RSS knows how to control individuals. Don't forget, Modi is only one of the many RSS Swayamsevaks," the person told HuffPost India on condition of anonymity.

With Lok Sabha elections just months away, the remarks by both the RSS chief and general secretary within a span of one week don't augur well for the Modi government.