Dattatreya Hosabale, an RSS leader considered close to Modi, has quietly gained in strength in the parent organisation over the course of the Lok Sabha campaign and is set to become the Sangh’s main liaison man with the BJP, according to officials in the RSS.
For past decade, this crucial slot in the RSS has been occupied by Suresh Soni. Both Hosabale and Soni are sah sarkaryavah (joint general secretaries) of the RSS. This latest shift is thought to have been induced directly by Modi.
“Hosabale has already started functioning as the Sangh’s liaison man for last few months,” said a senior RSS functionary, who asked for anonymity.
In the Sangh Parivar, this post has always been very crucial as the person carrying out this responsibility has the final say in all the BJP’s key decisions. The advice of the liaison man is always considered the viewpoint of the RSS and is given due respect in the BJP.
Presently, the affairs of the BJP are overseen by a five-member team comprising RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, sah karyavah (general secretary) Bhaiyyaji Joshi and joint general secretaries Soni, Hosabale and Krishna Gopal, with Soni representing the Sangh in the BJP.
Though one RSS functionary described the reshuffle as “a mere generational change”, officials in the organisation said it has to do with the Sangh's need to adapt to the new situation so that it could work closely with Modi. Hosabale is 59, while Soni is 64.
Unlike other RSS functionaries, Hosbale is considered more accommodative and open to new ideas and is said to have good rapport with Modi. Though he is himself a pracharak, Modi’s relationship with the Sangh has been tempestuous since he became the chief minister of Gujarat over a decade ago. With Hosabale as the RSS point man, it would be easy for Modi to deal with the Sangh, something that he would now have to do on regular basis. In addition, Hosabale may also help him establish a better grip over the BJP, since most of the party's young leaders hold the RSS joint general secretary in high esteem.
For almost two decades since late 1980s, Hosabale worked as the RSS organising secretary of the BJP’s student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. Many of his former ABVP protégés are in key positions in the BJP. With Hosabale’s help, Modi will be able to remove obstacles in case he decides to overhaul the party to suit his style of functioning, say RSS officials.
A Kannadiga by origin, Hosabale has a postgraduate degree in English literature and was a protégé of late HV Seshadri, the former general secretary of the RSS. In RSS circles, he is treated as the man being groomed for the top Sangh slot.
Officials said that Soni, who has been facing health problems for some time, has expressed his willingness to be relieved of the responsibility so that he could pursue “a spiritual life”.
A formal announcement will be made only “after the formation and stabilisation of the Narendra Modi government”, RSS officials said.