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With Santhosh, RSS Seeks to Increase its Ideological Imprint on BJP

COURTESY ET JULY 22

IN HIS NEW ROLE, RAMLAL WILL HANDLE TWO RESPONSIBILITIES — BRINGING PEOPLE INTO RSS, REACHING OUT TO INFLUENCERS
With Santhosh, RSS Seeks to Increase its Ideological Imprint on BJP

‘What sets Santhosh apart is his ability to connect with youngsters in party’
Vasudha.Venugopal@timesgroup.com

New Delhi:

RSS’ decision to replace Ramlal, a traditional Sangh pracharak, with tech-savvy BL Santhosh as BJP’s general secretary (organisation) seems to be part of its efforts to expand its ideological and moral influence in the party, even as it seeks to establish a larger role in the face of BJP’s political dominance, feel political observers.


What sets Santhosh apart is his ability to connect with youngsters in the party and identify committed workers and writers who can smartly articulate the Sangh’s vision, say those who have observed him. “He is probably the only one in the party who understands how technology influences the lives of not just voters but also of party cadres,” said a BJP member, who considers Santhosh among his mentors.

BJP leaders point out that it was Santhosh who organised 13-day jana raksha yatra in Kerala which led to senior leaders, including Amit Shah, taking out padayatras to condemn the killings of Sangh workers allegedly by CPM activists. It was during his tenure as Karnataka’s general secretary (organisation) that BJP formed the state government. When former CM BS Yeddyurappa brought in several turncoats to secure a majority and when the latter started dictating terms, Santhosh protested that the organisation was suffering.

“When Tamil movie ‘Mersel’, which had strong anti-BJP content, was brought out, he spoke to everyone and helped us raise the issue. If someone complains about a unit leader, he nips such talks in the bud. He is a total no-nonsense guy with a strong sense of what is wrong and what is right,” a BJP member said. He added that Ramlal and Santhosh represent “different needs of the party at different times.”

Santosh’s working style is similar to Amit Shah’s, say observers. “He has a moral appeal and knows to take sides without seeming wishy-washy. With Shah at the Centre now, it is important to have someone like him in the party to manage the everyday affairs. Ramlalji will be okay as long as the work is done. Santoshji is far difficult to please,” a member said.

Besides being a full-time worker of RSS since 1993, Santhosh has worked in several states, including UP, Gujarat and the northeastern states and has a passion for reading.

RAMLAL’S CURRENT ROLE

Thirteen years after being appointed by RSS to help BJP organisation, Ramlal will soon start work back in RSS as deputy in-charge of communication. His work location is not known yet although he has cleared his current office for Santhosh to take over.

In his new role, he will handle two responsibilities — bringing interested people into RSS and reaching out to influencers in society with Sangh’s vision. Ramlal will now work with Aniruddha Deshpande, a crucial but low-profile member of RSS leadership known to coordinate with chief Mohan Bhagwat’s meetings, with influencers in society.

According to senior leaders, Ramlal’s exit was non-controversial, unlike during the last two occasions when both Govindacharya and Sanjay Joshi had to leave in rather unpleasant circumstances.

“If RSS was miffed with him, the organisation wouldn’t have taken him back . The change in leadership was inevitable and the RSS saw it coming. That is why it acted with responsibility,” a senior Sangh leader said.

 

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