//After scandal,

After scandal,

MANINI CHATTERJEE , Wednesday, January 11, 2006

NEW DELHI, JANUARY 10: A joke doing the rounds in RSS circles is that the English alphabet has shrunk from 26 to 24 letters for swayamsevaks these days—no one wants to use the letters C and D anymore.

Never before in the course of the Sangh Parivar’s eight decade history, has its head faced so much turmoil as in the wake of the Sanjay Joshi CD controversy. With wild rumours that more CDs featuring other prominent RSS leaders are in the wings, RSS insiders fear an open season of sleaze that may cause incalculable damage to the organisation’s ‘‘character-building’’ mission and erode its authority over affiliates such as the BJP.
Sangh veteran M.G. Vaidya’s article in RSS mouthpiece Tarun Bharat—alleging that ‘‘a highly ambitious Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’’ from Gujarat could be behind the sexually explicit CD involving former pracharak Sanjay Joshi—has only provided further evidence of the distrust and suspicion that have invaded the Parivar of late.

RSS spokesman Ram Madhav sought to deny that impression today, saying: ‘‘We do not have suspicions about anybody in the Parivar—in Gujarat or elsewhere—being part of the conspiracy.’’ Madhav also denied reports that similar CDs featuring senior RSS leaders such as Mohanrao Bhagwat or Suresh Soni were doing the rounds. Speaking to The Indian Express, he said, ‘‘We have absolutely no knowledge of any other CDs. We believe it is part of the conspiracy to malign the organisation by keeping the CD issue alive.’’

Other well-placed sources, however, say that the RSS leadership is more concerned with the identity of the ‘‘conspirators’’ than with the targets of the conspiracy because they are convinced that it is an inside-job. ‘‘It is not as if the CDs are being made by our political enemies or are sting operations by the media. They are the handiwork of insiders who are motivated by a sense of sheer vendetta,’’ a Sangh insider said.

While Madhav may not agree with Vaidya’s Gujarat angle, the fact that he too spoke of a ‘‘conspiracy’’ only underlined the sense of deep unease that has gripped the organisation. And since whispers of the Sanjay Joshi CDs were afoot long before the CDs actually surfaced, no one is willing to entirely discount the fresh rumours that there are more in the offing. The pervasive climate of distrust is also underscored by the differing theories on who could be behind the sleaze CDs. While one section is convinced that it was the Uma Bharati camp which targeted Joshi, others accuse Narendra Modi supporters of being behind it.

There is also a view that former BJP chief L.K. Advani was rather too hasty in accepting Joshi’s resignation right in the midst of the BJP’s silver jubilee convention at Mumbai. That some Advani supporters were clearly enjoying the discomfiture of the RSS and the erosion of the ‘‘moral superiority’’ of its pracharaks has led to the suspicion that the ‘‘CD conspiracy’’ may have the ‘‘blessings’’ of the Advani camp.

The real damage, RSS insiders, admit is the much-vaunted discipline, moral standing and unity of the saffron brotherhood have all taken a beating.

Whether or not the CDs are ‘‘doctored’’, the disquieting fact is that it has become only too clear that fellow swayamsevaks are willing to stoop to the gutter level to malign one another.