Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Know about Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) - Their role in General Elections 2014

RSS Chief Dr Mohan Bhagawat
RSS Chief Dr Mohan Bhagawat
RSS Involvement in Elections

Recently, Ram Madhav, a senior leader of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) confirmed to the media, their involvement in the recent Parliamentary Elections to make Narendra Modi the Prime Minister.  Generally, RSS does not compete in the elections and does not share power.  Ram Madhav further  confirmed that this was the second time that RSS had totally involved their cadre in the election strategies. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi confirmed the active involvement of RSS in his victory.  When Indira Gandhi imposed emergency in 1975, RSS was banned and more than 10,000 RSS workers were arrested. During the 1977 General Elections, RSS worked at the ground level to defeat Indira Gandhi. During that time, the Janata Party won 345 seats out of 543 seats and formed the Government. Though RSS is an apolitical organisation, they involved their cadre to restore democracy in 1977, Ram Madhav said. 

After 26 years, RSS recently involved their cadre again to bring a change of Government, when the nation was facing large scale corruption, policy paralysis and lack of leadership. Congress made public statements that the electoral fight was between Congress and RSS. Interestingly, NDA won 336 seats in the Lok Sabha.  RSS is known to work from behind and not publicising their achievements, however significant they might be. 

RSS – Background

RSS was founded by Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in 1925 with the intention of promoting the concept of a united India and to promote indigenous ideology.  They drew inspiration from social and spiritual leaders like Swami Vivekananda, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Aurobindo.  Their cadre was also active during the freedom movement.

RSS conducts a daily one-hour ‘Shakha’ (training) of yoga, physical exercise and games for their members to develop their spirit of nationalism and patriotism.  It is reported that around 5,500 full-time workers (pracharaks) manage the RSS.  Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani and Narendra Modi started their public service as pracharaks.  It is also estimated that around 50,000 shakhas are held every day throughout India, with the participation of nearly 800,000 to 1,000,000 volunteer members, belonging to various castes and professions, without any discrimination of status. 

The RSS network has more than 30 sister organisations, viz. Sangh Parivar, which includes the political wing BJP, India’s largest trade union Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (11 million membership), India’s largest student union, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP with 2,200,000 members), Vidya Bharathi (running 13,500 schools with 3 million students), Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (2 million members), Muslim Rashtriya Manch (1 million members), Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram and many others.   RSS spreads the message of patriotism and nationalism in all the districts of the country through these organisations. 

The current chief of RSS (Sarsanghchalak) Dr. Mohanji Bhagwat is the 7th chief after the launch of RSS and he is the mentor for all the Sangh Parivar organisations.

Rescue Operations during Crises

The RSS cadre is known for its rescue operations during disaster situations like the Bhuj earthquake in 2001, Tsunami in 2004 and the Uttarkhand disaster in 2013.
RSS in Republic Day parade in 1963

In 1962, the then Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had requested RSS to assist the Government in various assignments during the Sino-Indian War.  As a gesture of goodwill, in 1963, Pandit Nehru invited RSS to participate in the Republic Day parade at New Delhi.  Again in 1965, during the Indo-Pak war, RSS was requested by the then Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri to take care of the law and order and the traffic in Delhi, so that the policemen could be spared for war duties.  Even during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, RSS cadre helped the authorities to maintain law and order in various states. 

When Gandhiji visited a 1500-strong RSS camp at Wardha in 1934, he was pleasantly surprised to find that the Swayamsevaks were not even aware of the castes of one another, not to speak of any ideas of untouchability. The visit left such a deep impression on Gandhiji’s that he referred to it thirteen years later.


The RSS, with its paramilitary style of functioning and its emphasis on discipline and nationalism, is sometimes seen by some as "an Indian version of fascism". When Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in 1948 by Nathuram Godse, an ex-member of RSS, the Nehru Government banned RSS for the first time in February 1948.  Justice Kapur Commission was set up to enquire into the murder of Mahatma Gandhi.  Justice Kapur observed that RSS was not responsible for the murder of Mahatma Gandhi.  The Government lifted the ban in July 1949 with the condition that RSS should adopt a constitution.  

RSS was again banned in 1975 during Emergency and the ban was lifted in 1977. 

Confused Perception about RSS due to Lack of PR

RSS, as a matter of policy, does not display any reaction to bouquets or brickbats. Thus, even misleading and wrong  information about RSS go undefended. This leads to confused perceptions about it.   Even for writing this article, I had to struggle to get information as they do not have any professional Public Relations set-up, to share their positive achievements and services to the nation. 

By K Srinivasan, Editor In Chief,PreSense

Know your Prime Minister Narendra Modi - Tea vendor to Prime Minister

On 26th May 2014, Narendra Damodardas Modi (63) was sworn in as the 15th Prime Minister of India in an impressive function at the official residence of the President of India, the Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi in the presence of Indian and international dignitaries, including the Heads of the SAARC (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation) nations. 

Narendra Modi was born on 17th September, 1950 into a poor family in Gujarat. He joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, a social and cultural organisation) at a young age to do national service.  He joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1987. He was responsible for the growth of the party’s presence in Gujarat.  Modi is known for his election strategies.  He led the BJP Party to power in Gujarat in 1995 and 1998 through his well-planned out strategies and their execution.

In October 2001, when the Gujarat Government faced an acute governance crisis, he was asked by the Party’s leadership to take over the helm of the State as Chief Minister, in spite of his zero experience in the Government. 

The Gujarat Experience

After taking charge of the Gujarat Government, Modi faced several critical situations like the devastating earthquake in Bhuj, the Godhra riots and the terrorist attack on Akshardam during 2002.   Modi was accused of inaction in Godhra riots and even alleged involvement. The Supreme Court acquitted him of all the allegations and charges. During the 13 years of his Chief Ministership in Gujarat, he proved himself as a development-oriented and good administrator.

In September 2013, in spite of the resentment of senior party leaders like L. K. Advani, he was named the Prime Ministerial candidate by BJP.  Since then, he galvanised the BJP cadre, which had remained frustrated after the poll debacles in 2004 and 2009. 

Election Campaign – 16th General Elections

Narendra Modi travelled more than 300,000 kilometres across the country and addressed more than 5,800 meetings and rallies.  The campaign theme Abki Baar Modi Sarkar’ - meaning ‘This Time, (it’s) Modi Government’ - and ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’ appealed to the voters. Even when the opposition parties continued to taunt him personally, he pursued undauntedly, with his dream mission of forming an NDA (National Democratic Alliance) Government.  In spite of the apprehensions that he would not be able to bring together poll allies, more than 20 parties joined him in the NDA alliance.  Modi campaigned aggressively through the effective use of technology and the internet, to draw the younger generation and the middle class voters. His promise of the Gujarat model of development attracted most voters. 

Campaign by UPA

UPA, (United Progressive Alliance), led by the Congress Party, could not match Modi’s zealous campaigning.  Modi converted every accusation of UPA into an opportunity for himself and his party.  For example, when Mani Shankar Iyer ridiculed Modi as a ‘tea vendor’, Modi capitalised on it to attract the poor section of the society.  He held live discussions with the people across the country through video conferencing in what he called ‘Chai Pe Charcha’ (Discussions over Tea).  His nomination paper was signed by a tea vendor. 

Various scams during the UPA regime, especially the 2G Scam and the Coalgate Scam were the main causes for the downfall of the Congress-led UPA Government. During their campaigning, the Congress focused more on pulling down Narendra Modi, than projecting their own accomplishments.  Modi thus gained the centre-stage and capitalised on this opportunity to project his strengths and capabilities, challenging Congress’ mud-slinging. Narendra Modi was projected as a strong contender as Prime Minister. The Congress and the Third Front parties on the other hand, did not name any leader or Prime Minister candidate, to match Modi’s calibre.

The Congress and the other Third Front leaders failed to present the prospective voters with any constructive plans or strategies and instead indulged in  negative campaigning by canvassing about ‘Modi’s threat to secularism’, to the voters, missing the mood of the nation for a development agenda.  

Narendra Modi prostrating  In front of Parliament House before being selected by the party as Prime Minister
Narendra Modi prostrating
In front of Parliament House before being selected by the party as Prime Minister
Modi’s Electoral Achievement

The aftermath of these campaigns was the sweeping performance by BJP, securing 282 seats (NDA 336 seats) out of 543 seats.  BJP gained absolute majority to form a Government on their own.  Congress won 44 seats, failing to win even the opposition party status, which required a minimum of 55 seats.The other major parties which were supporting Congress either directly or indirectly, like the Communist parties, NC, NCP, DMK, BSP and SP lost their prominence. The massive victory of Narendra Modi reflects the anger of the voters and the desire for change.

When Narendra Modi announced Mission 272+ (which projected a win of over 272 seats in the elections), to galvanise their workers to achieve a single majority, many were skeptical.  But his untiring efforts and confidence in himself and in the system, proved him right. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his office at South Block on 27th May 2014
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his office at South Block on 27th May 2014

On 26th May 2014, Narendra Modi was sworn in with 44 Ministers.  Just like when he took over Gujarat in 2001 as Chief Minister without any experience, he has now taken over as the Prime Minister of India without any experience in the Central Government.  Since he is perceived to be a good administrator
Namo's top 10 ten agenda for his colleagues - graphics courtesy: Economic Times
Namo's top 10 ten agenda for his colleagues - graphics courtesy: Economic Times
and listener, the expectations of voters are very high.  The economic condition of the nation, the price rise, the chronic state of corruption, strained relationship with neighbouring countries, the issue of unemployment, unaddressed issue of power shortage, and many more challenges are awaiting his attention and redressal.

His invitation to the heads of SAARC countries has sent out a message to the world that he is interested in good relations with other countries.  Modi has created hope and confidence in the minds of the Indians. Immediately after taking charge as PM, he has also given a 10-point agenda to all his colleagues in the Government.  He shows indications of proving himself to be an effective Prime Minister.

By K. Srinivasan, Editor in Chief, PreSense

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