RE-POSTING: Stillness before the storm – Inside the RSS on May 15


Article as appeared in the MAIL TODAY newspaper on May 16, 2014
Article as appeared in the MAIL TODAY newspaper on May 16, 2014t

The deafening silence and inactivity at the most famous square in old Nagpur’s Mahal area was akin to the stillness that precedes a storm and yet was an irony few can digest.

“May 16 is a day we waited for nearly a decade now. If as you suggest BJP wins, Ram Mandir should be made immediately,” said a volunteer who escorted us into the museum of sorts that has been made on the second floor of the imposing building. It is in effect, a large room full of history, heritage, gifts and mementoes received over the years by RSS chiefs and lessons from the past. Occupying the prime position is a statue of the founder of RSS and its first Sarsanghchalak, KB Hedgewar, flanked by portraits of MS Golwalkar and MD Deoras, who followed Hedgewar in that order. Pointing to a photograph of a temple, he said, “This is how beautiful that temple will be. We have kept everything ready, need few days of work to be frank.”

Not too far away from Mahal, Sangh’s then first officially appointed spokesperson, MG Vaidya, too echoed similar sentiments.

It is being said that for the first time since the Emergency was lifted, volunteers of the RSS have taken it upon themselves to ensure a victory for the saffron party. A lot also has to do with the ‘guidance’ provided in the October 13, 2013 remarks of the RSS Chief Dr Bhagwat, exhorting the citizens to ensure ‘100 per cent voting’.

With a few hours to go before the results of the General Elections 2014 are made public, the headquarters of the organisation many believe will play the central role in the days to come, was as placid as it gets. Inside and around the RSS building, true to its style, there were no volunteers thronging, no activity, infact not even a regular poster of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or its Prime Ministerial nominee Narendra Modi. Even the senior leaders like the Sarsanghchalak Dr Mohan Bhagwat and his deputy, Bhaiyaji Joshi were said to be away in Belgaum and Amravati respectfully. It was informed that their coming to Nagpur or even, as was the specualation, to Delhi, was unlikely. “What brings you here?” asked another volunteer. When reminded of the election results slated for May 16, he smiled.

Walking inside the building, one could witness simple rooms having a bed and toilet, fitted with rudimentary coolers to counter the soaring heat. “Dr Bhagwat too lives in here when he is not travelling, so does Bhaiyaji Joshi and others. There are no offices as you may want to think. Our lives are as simple as they come,” quipped another volunteer.

A cause which irks the insiders, even though they claim to laugh it off, is the constant ‘speculation’ in the public sphere about how the RSS controls the BJP. Most of those who we met stressed that the RSS had its plate full handling its charter of nation-building and character-building. “Since the roots are common, the BJP does come to us seeking guidance but that is it,” mentioned a volunteer. When asked why RSS seldom made efforts towards improving its public perception and forwarding its cause more aggressively, pat came the reply, “If you were to attend to your mother, in her time of need, it is a duty that you are doing. Will you go and advertise that?”

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