Mumbai: Just a few days before the scheduled election results, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) headquarters in Nagpur. Reliable sources claimed that the prime minister is likely to meet the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on May 20 to discuss the various scenarios in the aftermath of the poll results to be announced on May 23.
His visit to the RSS headquarters will apparently be the first in the last four years. This has fuelled speculations that he could be seeking the Sangh parivar’s backing for the prime ministerial post, amidst rumours that in case the Bharatiya Janata Party falls short of a majority, the RSS may propose the name of another BJP leader to appease members of the National Democratic Alliance.
Interestingly, Modi has maintained a safe distance from the headquarters and had avoided visiting Nagpur in past years.
“There is a fair chance that the party will return to power. But there is still a palpable fear that Modi feels the RSS might try to sideline him. One can’t forget the reins are in the hands of the RSS. This and there are several other governance issues that are likely to be discussed in the meeting,” confirmed a senior leader from BJP’s Nagpur unit.
In September, last year, Bhagwat, speaking at the three-day lecture series on ‘Bharat of future: An RSS perspective’ in New Delhi, had said, “It is a myth that Nagpur runs the government. We do not have any impact on government policies. Today, several former swayamsevaks are in politics. They have become prime ministers and presidents and have ample political experience. Sometimes they ask for a suggestion, which we give if it is possible for us.”
But it is an accepted truth that the RSS doesn’t restrict itself to just suggestions and has played a crucial role in strategising the party’s image and its political stands in both NDA-I and NDA-II. Though the organisation itself has kept away from electoral politics, several former swayamsevaks including Modi and Nitin Gadkari have contested and won elections.
Curiously, Modi was in Vidarbha in April this year for election campaigning. But he had avoided Nagpur. Even on landing in Nagpur, he straightaway headed to Wardha, where he had addressed a public rally.
Modi’s decision to skip campaigning for former BJP president and Nagpur’s Lok Sabha candidate Gadkari had raised some eyebrows. Gadkari, who is known for his close allegiance with the RSS, contested from Nagpur for the second time. Many also see him as an alternative to Modi for the top post in the government.
Rumours have been rife that several influential BJP karyakartas were asked to stay away from Gadkari’s campaign this election. Gadkari, who had won with a margin of 2.85 lakhs votes in 2014, has a tougher fight this year against Nana Patole. Patole, an ex- BJP MP, had quit BJP in 2017 over differences with Modi and joined the Congress.
Patole told The Wire that the internal difference within the BJP has been evident, “Things have gone out of their control in West Bengal. The fissures (within BJP) are slowly becoming visible. Even the local karyakartas has begun seeing through the promises made by Modi and other BJP leaders. This visit must be a desperate attempt to ensure his (Modi’s) ‘gurus’ are taken in confidence,” Patole claimed.