RAshtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader Mohan Bhagwat’s “Unlimited Positivity” lecture last weekend seems to have inflamed many members of the Bharatiya Janata party.
On Sunday, BL Santhosh, general secretary (organization) of the BJP, launched a meteoric attack on Akhilesh Yadav, call him a “political vulture” after the call of the leader of the Samajwadi party for a national vaccination campaign.
“What happened to you Ji .. !? The other day, you refused to take this same Modi vaccineâ¦ Today, you are the champion of the vaccination campaign. History will never forgive political vultures like you, âSanthosh tweeted, quoted by Yadav.
Inspired by Amit Malviya, head of the IT unit at BJP, target Arvind Kejriwal’s government for “underreporting” Covid deaths.
Their attacks on opposition leaders came a day after Bhagwat called for national unity and insisted on the need to stop finger pointing in times of public health crisis. So what is it about the RSS leader’s speech that put the BJP’s social media warriors in hyper-aggressive mode against critics?
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The Sangh has ears to the ground
At first glance, it seemed that Bhagwat had given the benefit of the doubt, if not outright outright clarity, to Narendra Modi’s government when faced with criticism for Covid’s mismanagement. “Kya janata, kya shasan, kya prashasan, sabhi gaflat mein aa gayeHe said, holding virtually everyone – the people, the government and the administration (read bureaucracy) – collectively responsible for being caught off guard.
When everyone hasn’t anticipated the second wave, no one can be held responsible for the lapses, of course.
This decentralization and dilution of responsibility and accountability came at a time when unease was growing in the Sangh over the virtual absence of government and political leadership on the ground. Many Sangh volunteers have succumbed to Covid-19. Unlike the BJP leaders who seem to have started to believe their own positive narrative, regardless of the moans and pleas for help everywhere, the RSS comments on the ground were far more disturbing and disturbing. But Bhagwat’s perceived endorsement removed the qualms and inhibitions of BJP leaders about blustering. After all, the RSS leader would not blame his swayamsevaks and ex-pracharaks who run the country and have already delivered the Ram Mandir to Ayodhya and removed the special status of Jammu and Kashmir (Article 370).
But BJP’s social media warriors are probably reading too much into Bhagwat’s positivity talk. He may have suggested collective responsibility and accountability, but his remarks that the government was caught off guard rejected the Centre’s position as articulated by the Union Minister. Prakash Javadekar that the government giving up the ball after the first wave was a “myth” and “nothing is further from the truth”.
We can get a good perspective on what Ram Madhav wrote in The Indian Express the Saturday. Madhav signed him as a member of the Board of Governors of the Foundation of India. Once a powerful secretary general of the BJP, Madhav was brought back to the RSS last March and appointed to its central executive council. Some senior BJP leaders may not be comfortable with his outspokenness, but he is known to have the ears of Sangh’s leadership and know their minds.
The Modi government might have looked like a deer in the headlights at first, but it went full blast to meet the challenge, Madhav wrote. He praised Prime Minister Modi and his government’s Covid leadership after the initial hiccups, but Madhav also gave insight into Sangh’s thinking: âA little more transparency, a little more commitment with the public on the part of political leaders and a little more openness to constructive criticism and expert advice from outside government would further aid government efforts. This completed what Bhagwat left unsaid or vague in his speech.
You could tell Madhav was a bit euphemistic. He should have used “a lot more” instead of “a little more”. But the message is delivered. The RSS is not very amused by the backtracking and belligerence of the BJP.
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BJP belligerence will not work
Amit Malviya is not wrong. The Kejriwal government has a lot to answer about Covid’s data-rigging, as well as its incompetence to respond to the crisis in waves one and two. But the information and technology department in charge of the BJP must be careful in selectively targeting a government. Many BJP-led governments – in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Assam – face similar allegations. In Goa, ruled by the BJP, there have been deaths at a state-run medical college and hospital for four consecutive days last week, with the death toll estimated at 83. The health minister suggested an oxygen supply problem and demanded a high court investigation, only for the government to obscure the the reasons for death later.
Speaking of transparency, the Center extended the gap between two doses of Covishield from 6-8 to 12-16 weeks, citing “real evidence“from the UK. A day later, the UK reduced the interval between two doses from 12 to 8 weeks. This put a big question mark on the real reason for the Indian government’s decision. million people waiting for their second dose deserve a clear answer, which is not forthcoming.
There are a plethora of examples of the lack of transparency in the management of Covid, the hijacked political leadership when the people need it most, and the jarring belligerence of leaders of ruling parties. BJP leaders may have lost touch with the field, leaving Prime Minister Modi to secure votes, but the RSS is aware people at the reception are not amused by the message from their political leaders : what cannot be healed must be endured.
BJP leaders should read Ram Madhav and then hear Bhagwat’s speech again. It is not a blanket approval.
Opinions are personal.
(Edited by Neera Majumdar)
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