BJP’s parent organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Saturday re-elected Bhaiyyaji Joshi as the organisation’s sarkaryawah (general secretary).
Joshi was re-elected sarkaryawah for the fourth consecutive three year-term expiring in 2021 in the Akhil Bhartiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS) meeting in Nagpur.
Joshi’s previous three-year term got over when the ABPS meet which began on Friday. Joshi has been in office for nine years now. With his re-election for a fourth term, Joshi equals the record of most number of tenures – four at a stretch – to be offered to any incumbent in the post. Earlier, it was V Seshadri who had held the post for 13 years since 1987.
Sarkaryawah in the RSS hierarchy is the most powerful position after that of the chief or sarsanghchalak. Mohan Bhagwat before assuming office as sarsanghchalak worked as sarkaryawah under KS Sudarshan.
The sarkaryavah is the chief executive overseeing the organisational apparatus, including Sangh’s relationship with its affiliates. A change of guard at number two position has had a direct bearing on Sangh’s interactions with the BJP.
Earlier, it was speculated that joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale was going to replace Joshi. The RSS pracharak from Karnataka, who has worked as organisation secretary of the RSS’ students wing Akhil Bhartiya Vidyathi Parishad (ABVP), has risen up the ranks and grown in influence.
According to one media report, the possibility of Hosabale’s elevation has caused some unease in the Sangh Parivar since Hosabale is seen as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ally in the RSS. A section in RSS was apprehensive that if Hosabale got the key post, it would curtail the RSS’ influence over Modi government and BJP and make it work to Modi’s advantage.
However, media reports said PM Modi and BJP president Amit Shah backed Joshi’s re-election, placing reliance on Joshi’s ability to handle tricky situations within the larger Sangh Parivar, especially friction with organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) and the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS).
A report in Mumbai Mirror quoted a senior BJP leader and ex- RSS functionary as saying, “The aim is to win 2019 elections and we can’t do that with a divided house and do not put up a united front. This is why we need someone like Joshi who is deft at handling all organisations carefully. We ruined our chances in 2004 with constant friction between these parties.”
The report quoted an analyst to say even if Joshi is continued as a general secretary it will be a temporary arrangement till the elections and he might resign from the post after the 2019 elections.