[ 2 Sep, 2006 TIMES NEWS NETWORK ]
NEW DELHI: RSS veteran Nanaji Deshmukh has fired a volley of criticism at the organisation for becoming mired in petty politics while also rapping BJP for abandoning political ideals, compromising on ideology and falling prey to a luxury-driven culture.
The double-shot aimed at RSS-BJP has not surprised too many in the saffron clan as Deshmukh has been raising similar issues and giving vent to his disenchantment by writing letters at regular intervals. In this instance, he has addressed his missive to RSS general secretary Mohan Bhagwat.
Deshmukh, who was involved in the merger of four parties to form the Janata Party after the Emergency, has long retired from public life. He works at his ashram at Chitrakoot in Madhya Pradesh.
While the sentiments he has expressed are not a revelation, the sharp criticism — Deshmukh has said that RSS has failed to deliver on its essential mandate to erase caste and regional politics — does point to what has now become an endemic drift in the organisation. On a more specific level, his charge that RSS men have allowed themselves to be dragged into commonplace politicking would be painful for the organisation.
The contents of the letter, which were broadcast on Times Now channel, also focussed on the ambiguity and strains that have marked RSS-BJP ties for the last few years. While ticking off the BJP, the saffron elder has also underlined that RSS' inability to bring some order to its political offspring lay in its own lack of clarity about the party's leadership and policies.
Though he does not appear to have named anyone, the criticism offered would be seen as a comment on RSS chief K S Sudarshan's helmsmanship of the Sangh Parivar.
Deshmukh is widely respected in saffron circles, though his acceptance of a nominated Rajya Sabha seat despite having "retired" from politics, during the NDA government's tenure, did cut into his esteem.
Some of the flaws in BJP style and functioning have been pointed out earlier. The reported comment that the party was now used to holding its meetings in high-end hotels, a reference to a BJP executive held in a plush Mumbai hotel in 2004, has been aired repeatedly. Often a benchmark for "austerity", as interpreted by RSS, is the preparedness to eschew a "five-star culture".
This usually results in such indulgence being practised in a more clandestine manner.
In the letter dated June 5, Deshmukh has said that "achieving power based in caste and region-based politics is against Sangh's principles, but Sangh has taken no steps to erase it. In fact, to get to power, active swayamsewaks have taken and given support to those dividing Hindu society."
It would seem the allusion is to BJP's dalliances with BSP leader Mayawati. But like many other BJP and RSS seniors, Deshmukh fails to offer any solutions as to what BJP ought to do in a fractured, caste-ridden political landscape as in UP where the party has to choose between Mayawati and the other purveyor of caste politics, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.