Disquiet draws Bhagwat to Delhi

Disquiet draws Bhagwat to Delhi

By: || Updated: 26 Dec 2014 04:37 AM
New Delhi: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohanrao Bhagwat has initiated “confidence-building” measures within the Sangh parivar following reports that his aggressive endorsement of religious “re-conversions” in Calcutta last week didn’t go down well with the government and the BJP leadership.

 

Bhagwat is camping at a meditation centre in a Delhi suburb to meet senior leaders of the BJP and other Sangh constituents. Over the next two days, he would give them “marg darshan” (guidance).

 

Apart from the BJP leaders, Bhagwat will meet representatives from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), RSS student body Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the Sangh’s social service wing Seva Bharti.

 

The BJP’s problem was the “re-conversion” issue, read in conjunction with demands to elevate Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse as a “national icon”, got conflated with the government’s failure to get important reform bills through in Parliament.

 

The insurance bill was blocked in the upper House where the Opposition, in a majority, ganged up against the BJP-led NDA and stalled work.

 

Industry representatives have expressed disappointment over the Rajya Sabha flare-ups and wondered how the government would cope with the Sangh’s “ghar wapsi” (homecoming) agenda.

 

A young BJP MP said: “Six months of goodwill that our government earned was washed away by the sarsanghchalak’s one statement (in Calcutta). (Narendra) Modiji could have explained comments coming from others and even dealt with them. But what can he do with Bhagwatji?”

 

At a VHP event in Calcutta last Saturday, Bhagwat had said there was nothing wrong or new in bringing “home” converts, those against such “homecomings” should try and get all conversions outlawed, and if one didn’t “want to change into a Hindu”, they “should not convert Hindus, either”.

 

A source who monitored the Jammu and Kashmir elections said Bhagwat’s pronouncements might have polarised Muslims in Jammu and Ladakh against the BJP “much more than we expected” and helped the Congress.

 

The source said: “We managed to neutralise opposition to an extent by dropping Article 370’s repeal from our campaign but that was undone.”

 

Following the damage perception to the government, sources said Modi had “conveyed” his “unhappiness” to the RSS brass through an intermediary. After that, on Monday, a “samanway baithak” (coordination meeting) of the RSS and the BJP was held at central minister Nitin Gadkari’s residence.

 

On Wednesday, Bhagwat shared public space with VHP and BJP patriarchs Ashok Singhal and L.K. Advani to launch a biography of one of his predecessors, the late Rajendra Singh alias Rajju Bhaiyya. The RSS chief gave an anodyne speech on Rajju Bhaiyya. Advani declined to speak.

 

On Thursday, the “parivar” and the BJP refused to associate itself with an event convened by the Arya Kendriya Sabha to commemorate the death anniversary of Arya Samaj preacher Swami Shraddhananda who was into religious “re-conversions” in his lifetime.

 

The organisers had invited Advani, Union minister Harsh Vardhan, Delhi BJP leaders Vijay Goel and Meenakshi Lekhi and RSS joint general secretary Krishna Gopal.

 

Gopal — the lone north Indian representative in the RSS’s top phalanx dominated by Maharashtrians and representatives from the south — is increasingly expected to be the chief conduit with the BJP.

 

“The RSS leadership is aware that it should not create hurdles for the Modi government. That’s why Bhagwatji is here (in Delhi),” a former ABVP leader said.

 

- The Telegraph, Calcutta

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