Nagpur: Bhaiyyaji Joshi was chosen as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's General Secretary or Sarkaryavah for a record fourth term on Saturday evening. The septuagenarian, known to share an extremely close rapport with Sarsanghachalak Mohan Bhagwat, was unanimously chosen by the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha, as per the RSS custom.
The triennial election this time was no doubt more important on the background of the forthcoming 2019 Lok Sabha and State legislature elections. But, with this selection, most of the media houses fell flat on their mouths. After all, media speculations were rife that 63-year-old Dattatreya Hosabale will most likely be the next General Secretary.
"This shows the media's lack of understanding of the RSS functioning," a senior RSS functionary told CNN-News18 in a candid chat.
The speculation originated in the power circles of Delhi. It will be interesting to note that the same speculations had made rounds from the same Delhi circuits before the last 2015 elections as well.
Several newspaper reports had carried verbatim stories of Dattatreya Hosabale likely to become the General Secretary in 2015. He, being close to PM Narendra Modi, was cited as one of the reasons.
"There is uncanny similarity between these 2015 reports and the 2018 reports. It is surprising how media fell to this ploy for a continuous second time. If you take off the dates of the 2015 reports, you will find the exact same reports doing rounds. How did nobody think of this?" asked a senior journalist in Nagpur, who has been covering RSS for over three decades now.
"RSS hates these pressure tactics that a section of its affiliates want to use. That is not how things work in this organisation," said Pradeep Kumar Maitra, another veteran journalist from Nagpur. He has covered the organisation for over three decades now.
“The RSS is a conservative organisation. It functions like the Church. Media speculations, hype do not make it change its decisions," a senior journalist said.
Was the name of Dattatreya Hosabale making rounds at all?
We posed this question to several RSS insiders. The unanimous answer was, "No." Every RSS office bearer the correspondent had spoken with before the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha, said that Bhaiyyaji Joshi will get another term. The most important factor of the election has consistently been that it has been unanimous. "There is no race. Nobody is pitted against the other, as media would like to believe."
"RSS is a family organisation. Decisions don’t take place in RSS the way media thinks they do. The process of ascertaining the next Sarkaryavahak had begun at least six months before the ABPS. Reviews of the current Sarkaryavahak's functioning are taken informally from across the cadre. The name is unanimously decided months before the ABPS begins. What are the considerations while deciding the next office bearer? His current functioning, health condition, his attunement to the organisation's thought of functioning," an RSS office bearer said.
"Does the RSS take any decision on the basis of whether a particular person is close to a particular leader in BJP? No. That is never the case," he clarified.
In fact, the election process is an internal process. Political leaders don't even have voting rights during the process. And yet, BJP president Amit Shah, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, were present on the day of the election.
Behind the closed doors
What happened behind the closed doors at Dr Hedgewar Smriti Smarak office of RSS at Reshimbag in Nagpur then? RSS sources said that Amit Shah was appraised about the ground level perception about the party. "Very strong feedback is given on the government's functioning, its perception. Various office bearers of RSS discuss their experiences. Also, it is a time for the political leaders to return to their parent body and to meet everyone under one roof. It is also a procedure to call the representatives of the affiliate bodies. They are invitees," he said.