It was a hot and humid day at Nagpur. All the more hotter with the anticipation of whether RSS was finally going to see a major organisational change at the top with the name of Dattatreya Hosabale doing the rounds for months replacing Bhaiyyaji Joshi as the sarkaryavah or general secretary.
Those who know the working style of the Sangh will agree that this is the most influential post as the general secretary ensures decisions are implemented not only within RSS but also among its affiliates. So what stopped the dark horse from getting to that spot and hence a generation change?
The Pratinidhi Sabha is the highest decision making body of the RSS that meets every 3 years in Nagpur to not only elect members for other organisational posts like secretaries but also that of the sarkaryavah.
Since 2009 Bhaiyyaji Joshi has been the sarkaryavah of RSS and to the surprise of many, the 70-year-old was re-elected even today unanimously.
The election process started precisely at 3.40 pm as it was scheduled. Ashok Soni of the Sangh’s central division was made the election officer.
It was Jayantibhai Bhadesia of the Western division who proposed Joshi’s name citing the work he has done so far. Interestingly no-one wanted to contest against Joshi and as a result his name was passed unanimously.
Bhaiyyaji Joshi was elected unopposed to the post he has been holding for close to a decade now and will remain in the post for at least the next three years.
However, few within the Sangh wanted a relatively younger Hosabale to take charge in place of Joshi. But sources within RSS told India Today, that RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat himself was all for Bhaiyyaji to continue.
India Today learnt that apart from Bhagwat, a few senior functionaries were also in favour of Joshi to run for another term at least.
Just like in 2015, Bhaiyyaji Joshi delivered an emotional speech where he cited his ill health. “For the last two times I have been insisting on young blood to be given a chance which you (RSS) didn’t pay attention to. My request is at least this time my request is heard,” said the Sangh’s number 2 in command.
But almost like a deja vu of the previous pratinidhi sabha, it was Joshi’s name that was proposed and passed without any glitch.
Soon after, the media head of RSS Manmohan Vaidya said, “Bhaiyyaji Joshi had been re-elected as RSS general secretary for a period of 3 years. In view of huge progress in his tenure, re-election was mooted. In Hindu culture, 12 years is an important period. So four office bearers supported it and since no other name came up, we re-elected Bhaiyyaji Joshi.”
It wasn’t just the upper echelons of the RSS’s ‘wish’ that got Joshi re-elected, there was also the consideration of Hosabale’s age and experience.
Sources say RSS didn’t want a rerun of NDA 1 during Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani when K Sudarshan was the Sangh head and Mohan Bhagwat was the number 2. Sudarshan’s post was higher though his age or experience wasn’t as much.
Many within the RSS have confided that another reason the organisation wasn’t as keen to make Hosabale replace Joshi was because of his association with ABVP.
Though it is the student wing of the RSS itself, within the Sangh, it is seen as a political outfit.
However, Hosabale is not sitting in an empty boat. History of the RSS suggests even Madan Das Devi was once touted be the Sangh’s number 2 and he had requisite skills for the post as well but wasn’t made one.
Within the corridors of the RSS, many in hushed tones have also cited Hosabale’s ‘good equation’ with many in PM Modi’s cabinet and also within the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) going against him.
As a ‘cultural mentor’ of the BJP, this is perceived not as something that can help anyone climb the ladder within the RSS.
It is well known the work that cadres of the RSS do on ground to create a base for an electoral victory for the BJP in state after state and many cabinet ministers have gone on record to concede that.
The most recent example was that of Tripura where Sunil Deodhar, BJP’s Tripura in-charge, accepted that had it not been the help of the RSS cadres, the victory would not have been in a reality.
When it comes to its organisation and key positions, the RSS still prefers to keep it miles away from politics and any association with it is a strict no-no.