RSS wants BJP to pull up its socks


New Delhi : The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Friday expressed disappointment over the infighting in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), but refused to draw up a road map for the party’s revival unless it was asked to.

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In a rare press conference that has been timed when the BJP is facing its most serious crisis, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said: “Whatever is happening is not right, it should stop. Nobody finds it good,” Bhagwat said.

The Hindu nationalist RSS is the ideological fountainhead of the BJP.

Speaking in public for the first time since the trouble erupted in the BJP following the release of Jaswant Singh’s book praising Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the RSS chief maintained that this did mean the end of the road for the party.

“To say they (BJP) are going towards an abyss is not correct, they got a jolt in the elections and they should get over it. We think that they will be able to do it.”

He steered clear of Jaswant Singh’s book and only said: “I have not read the book; I haven’t got the time to read it, but I will read it and form an opinion.”

Asked about the role the Sangh would play in the BJP’s revival, he said it was not necessary that “every time the role (of RSS in BJP affairs) is visible.”

He also refused to draw up any road map or advice to the BJP.

“The Sangh (RSS) has its own task (of uniting the society). If the party needs some help and some advice, we will give it. But what has to be done and what not is the decision of the party,” Bhagwat asserted.

The RSS chief said it was for the BJP to “think and decide” its own future and added: “We are not worried (about the goings-on in the BJP) and it is immaterial whether the Sangh is happy or not happy about it; the BJP has to think and decide its future.”

Referring to his recent suggestion that a younger leadership take over the reins of the BJP, the 58-year-old Bhagwat said: “Fifty to sixty years is the average age for the Sangh leadership and it’s for the political party to decide what should be the right age for it.”

In what was seen as a reference to the 82-year-old BJP leader L.K. Advani, Bhagwat had said in a recent interview to Times Now television that there was need for a younger leadership to take charge of the party.

About the RSS’ own revolution, he said the organisation was changing with the times and would “adopt new technology” to reach out to more people.

“The Sangh is getting stronger and stronger. The flow of people coming to the RSS is not decreasing, only the pattern is changing,” Bhagwat said.

He said the organisation was evolving and several initiatives were being taken to draw more people, particularly the young to it. “As a lot of people have to go to far off places to work and cannot come to the morning shakhas (group meetings), we have started night shakhas and other programmes, including weekly meetings,” he said.

Asked about the participation of women in the Sangh activities, Bhagwati said the RSS had a women’s wing Rashtriya Sevika Samiti with 5,000 shakas and both worked together.