The differences are evident. The preferences are clear. The Sangh Parivar is divided. The bulk of the central BJP leadership is moving in one direction. The RSS is looking in the opposite direction. A split between leaders of the RSS and BJP is considered unthinkable. But the rift between them is already visible. Let us see how.
The tension within the Sangh Parivar is a reflection of the sharp differences that have arisen within the Congress. On the available evidence this appears to be the emerging line up. Home Minister P Chidambaram is perhaps Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s most trusted cabinet minister. He was the one who took the rap for the mess created over Telangana by Mrs Gandhi herself. He is the one who sees Rajiv Gandhi whenever he closes his eyes and hears Rahul Gandhi speak.
Poor Digvijay! He seems to be left far behind in the sycophancy race. And Chidambaram is the one who is taking on Mrs Gandhi’s biggest current headache – Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself. Meanwhile, according to the grapevine the PM also is silently gaining strength from an unexpected source. Mrs Gandhi’s common distrust of both the PM and Mr Pranab Mukherjee is driving them closer. The two have a long history of interaction with its ups and downs. Both are seasoned players who between them could clean up corruption if they summoned the will to do it. That is why the threat of exposure haunts their opponents.
Chidambaram challenging the PM for asserting that he was in the loop with Raja on the spectrum scam decisions has attracted attention even in the usually cautious mainstream media. Mrs Gandhi’s grouse with the PM could well be the latter’s inability to guarantee that the money trail of the current scams would be derailed. The CBI is after all not under the Home Minister but under the Prime Minister’s Office. Therefore within the Congress the division between the PM and Mrs Gandhi supported by Chidambaram and others is becoming clearer and sharper every day. Little wonder that sections of the mainstream media are compelled to notice the rift.
The division within the Congress is influencing perceptions within the Sangh Parivar. Mrs Gandhi might well prefer a BJP government headed by LK Advani, backed by the Congress from outside, to the current dispensation. Her concern above everything else would be to protect her family members from being tainted by any of the current scams. After Advani’s public disavowal of Mrs Gandhi’s alleged Swiss bank accounts, would he not be for Mrs Gandhi a safer proposition to ensure that than Dr Manmohan Singh? Could the Advani letter be the surety from the BJP that Mrs Gandhi might have sought that her family would be protected?
After the initial grumbling among the BJP leaders against Advani’s letter the resentment seems to have subsided. The lure of getting back in government could be a unifying factor. Is that why every single BJP leader in parliament is slamming the PM and remaining mum about any wrongdoing by Mrs Gandhi? Why, even Arun Shourie defended Chidambaram and attacked the PM! It is certainly odd that the party which till the other day criticized the PM for being a helpless pawn of Mrs Gandhi is now attributing all responsibility to the PM and none to Mrs Gandhi.
It is in this context that the letter written on February 11th by the RSS to the PM should be viewed. For the first time in its history the RSS publicly wrote a letter to the PM. The letter stated:
“We have reason to believe that in the last four to five years, there is a political conspiracy to destabilize the RSS and an independent inquiry should be instituted to look into it.”
The letter pointed out that Hindu terrorists like Srikant Purohit and Dayanand Pandey accused in the Malegaon and Samjhauta Express blasts “have been planning to kill RSS chief Mohan Rao Bhagwat and Sangh members like Indresh Kumar” of which there was “evidence with the Maharashtra ATS on that”. The letter goes on to ask how the government can trust statements of those who were themselves threatening and working against the RSS and its top brass. “How can these people be associated with the RSS if they were a threat to us?” RSS spokesman MM Vaidya asked the media. “There should be an independent probe on who are behind these people and also one on the threat to Bhagwat’s life.”
The media was quick to conclude from the letter being written that the RSS was worried about being implicated in terror and then being banned. The media missed the more significant aspect. If there is a conspiracy to destabilize the RSS as alleged in the letter the finger implicitly points at Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s favourite hatchet man in the cabinet, Home Minister Chidambaram. Furthermore the letter clearly indicates that the RSS trusts the PM more than it does Chidambaram.
As indicated above this is quite opposite to the direction in which the BJP top brass is moving. The differences between the RSS and the BJP, percolating down from the differences within the Congress, are therefore plainly visible. The BJP opposes the government by attacking the PM. The RSS opposes the Congress by isolating the Dynasty. BJP MPs look for immediate gain. They want to get into the government. The removal of Dr Manmohan Singh from his post could conceivably create conditions to accomplish that. The RSS looks for long term gain. Isolating the Dynasty and making it politically irrelevant would accomplish that. Minus the Dynasty what would remain of the Congress? There is therefore a rationale behind the RSS-BJP differences. It remains to be seen whether these differences will widen. And if these do, where they will lead the nation.