‘Whatever I am today, it is because of the RSS’ ‘We have become a very powerful force in Jammu and Kashmir’ —Ram Madhav
By Soumitra Bose/Mukesh Kumar Sinha
Essentially RSS Pracharak (fluent, cogent-laconic mix, rationale par excellence), now Bharatiya Janata Party General Secretary Ram Madhav represents the newest face of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-turned-BJP Office Bearer officially. He is General Secretary of the BJP. The six-footer (Pedigreed Brahmin) from East Godavari in Andhra Pradesh tells JUST IN PRINT that ‘the RSS is changing‘; ‘BJP is transfolrming’ and people en masse are accepting it from the core of their heart being totally tired with the run-of-the-mill blabberings of the anachronous, incongruous personalities.
On BJP performance in J&K Assembly Elections: “We are certainly disappointed by our inability to win a single seat in the valley… We will (threadbare, minutely) analyse what led to this kind of dismal — in terms of seats — non-performance by the BJP. I certainly don’t want to attribute any religious or so-called communal reasons for it; for the simple reason, that even in Ladakh, a Buddhist majority area, we failed to win seats.”
(Ram Madhavd, in charge of BJP election campaign, strategies, alliances in Jammu and Kashmir has mixed feelings about the election results. The BJP won 25 seats — all in the Jammu region — recording its best performance in the state. It hoever did not win a single seat in the Kashmir valley and Ladakh. Madhav — who was deputed from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to the BJP earlier this year — feels party cadres worked hard, the BJP played safe on political issues and even underplayed its vehement stand on the abolition of Article 370 of the Constitution which mandates a special status for Jammu and Kashmir.)
Historic day for you and the BJP. What is your take?
Undoubtedly, this is a historic day for the BJP; we have secured the highest number of votes in this election in Jammu and Kashmir, and the second highest number of seats in the state.
This is the highest ever for the BJP in the history of elections in this state.
We offer this victory as a tribute to (the founder of the Jan Sangh, the BJP’s political parent) Dr Syama Prasad Mukherjee’s cherished memory (Dr Mukherjee died in Kashmir in June 1953; the Jan Sangh alleged he was not provided proper medical treatment by the state government after he was arrested).
It is a very significant victory for us because we have become a very powerful and important force in this state today.
And keeping the spirit of the mandate in view, we are trying to give a stable and development-oriented government for the people of the state; we are exploring the available options.
You will agree that Mission 44 turned out to be hype.
When we said Mission 44+; in fact, I have said in several interviews that our Mission 44+ was to say that the BJP along with certain like-minded people will try to form a government.
If we succeed in that means we have succeeded in our Mission 44+.
What is the meaning of Mission 44+? It is to give a stable and good government to Jammu and Kashmir. That was our commitment to the people of J&K.
One of the biggest setbacks for you is not opening your account in the Kashmir valley. Observers feel the way Hindu fringe elements have impacted the rest of India, it has echoed in the valley.
We are certainly disappointed by our inability to win a single seat in the valley. We never thought we would win too many seats. We sincerely tried to win a couple of seats, but we could not succeed.
We have to analyse, try and understand the reasons behind our failure to win any seats in the valley. I don’t want to jump to any conclusions in haste. We will analyse what led to this kind of dismal — in terms of seats — non-performance by the BJP.
I certainly don’t want to attribute any religious or so-called communal reasons for it; for the simple reason, that even in Ladakh, a Buddhist majority area, we failed to win seats.
Then very interestingly in the Jammu region, a couple of Muslim candidates put up by the BJP won elections. If what you are saying is correct, then we should have lost the rest of the seats too. No Muslim candidates would have won any seats Jammu.
So, probably for our less-than-satisfactory performance in Ladakh and in Kashmir, we need to analyse a bit more. I want to add one more point this: People such as former separatist Sajjad Lone, who have openly identified themselves with Modiji, won handsomely in the valley.
Sajjad’s party (the People’s Conference) won two seats — this is the first time they have done so. This goes on to prove that the issues raked up in the rest of the country were certainly not the major reasons for such a performance in the valley.
You know Kashmir has historic baggage. It is a Muslim-majority state. These two facts make the BJP’s position quite sensitive. Your dominant presence in the legislative assembly makes a very different kind of a beginning.
I am fully aware of it. BJP is fully ready to take up the responsibility. BJP is fully National. Kashmir is also National.
If you are aware of this responsibility, then how do you look forward to it? When we talk of Article 370 and the unresolved aspects of Kashmir, how do you look at this bigger picture?
It is certainly a historic election. People have given a fragmented mandate. We went to the people with the single point agenda of development. We secured the highest number of votes in this election for that. So it is our and the other two main parties’ responsibility — the Peoples Democratic Party and the National Conference — to make sure that a stable, development-oriented government is established in the state. We have to work towards that.
How is it like when the BJP loses election?
To expect to win every election is not correct , because each election has its own arithmetic and dynamics. Election results, however, must lead to analyses, he points out. “Every election result is a time for stocktaking. It gives us an opportunity to find out what is happening on the ground, so that we can prepare ourselves for the next election.
What next for the BJP?
We have certainly emerged as a force in Bengal. In the next Assembly election, BJP will be seen as an alternative to the ruling party.
Your comments on BJP National President Amit Shah’s individualistic style of functioning attracting criticisms which are fast spreading ?
Shah is a capable leader. He has proved his political mettle and maturity in Gujarat. Now that we have won two state elections — Maharashtra and Haryana — the whole assessment on him has already changed,.
BOTTOM LINE : Technologically savvy, Madhav is active on social networking forums. A recent tweet, however, put him in trouble when, after the death of historian Bipan Chandra, he praised the academic’s contribution to history. Angry reactions followed, condemning Madhav for lauding a staunch critic of the RSS. But Madhav is not troubled by the trolls. “We are a democracy. Everyone — even the last man on the street — is entitled to his views. I don’t disrespect anybody personally merely because he or she was critical of the RSS. I would rather defend the RSS with all my might,” he says. And that’s not surprising, for Madhav’s links with the RSS are old. His father, Surya Narayan, was a member of the RSS, the state general secretary of the Jan Sangh and later a member of the BJP. His mother Janaki Devi, too, was active in the party. Madhav, who joined the RSS when he was four, studied engineering and then political science from Mysore University — which is when he decided to became a full-time RSS pracharak. “I had a great training in the RSS. Whatever I am today, it is because of the RSS,” he confidently says.He vehemently argues that the RSS is changing with time — and the belief that it’s stuck in a time warp is misleading.“It adapts to changing times,” he says. “It has introduced so many new activities for the young such as exclusive shakhas where there are specific activities for IT professionals. I went to a shakha recently where youngsters were playing rugby.” Many university students are joining the RSS, he contends, adding that “thousands of men” express their desire to join the RSS on its website. “So if there is membership through the website, you can imagine that young people are joining us,” he says.