The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the big brother in the Sangh Parivar, is bracing for a major shakeup in March, when the organisation is set to get a new executive head, the Sar Karyavah (general secretary). The incumbent, Suresh Rao Joshi or Bhaiyyaji Joshi, whose second term ends in March, is likely to be replaced by one of the Sah Sar Karyavahs (joint general secretaries) of the RSS.

The man who is tipped for the Sar Karyavah slot is Dattatreya Hosabale, the RSS leader considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a senior office-bearer in the organisation told on condition of anonymity.

Hosabale is presently one of the three joint general secretaries of the RSS (the other two being Suresh Soni and Krishna Gopal). A Kannadiga by origin, Hosabale has a postgraduate degree in English literature and was a protégé of late HV Seshadri, the former Sar Karyavah.

Guide and philosopher

While the Sar Sanghchalak – or the chief commander, a post presently held by Mohan Bhagawat – is referred to in the RSS constitution as a “guide and philosopher” who can nominate his successor, the Sar Karyavah, or executive head of the organisation, is elected by an all-India body of delegates, called the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha, every three years. The Sar Karyavah then nominates Sah Sar Karyavahs and other office-bearers in consultation with the Sar Sanghchalak and the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha. Though the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha is supposed to meet once every year, the election of office-bearers takes place only after three years.

Technically, the Sar Karyavah is number two in the RSS, which is headed by the Sar Sanghchalak. Yet it is Sar Karyavah who, in his capacity as the Sangh's executive head, controls the actual functioning of the organisation. Apart from appointing the central office-bearers, he also presides over the meetings of the ABPS as well as the Kendriya Karyakari Mandal, the central executive committee of the RSS.

Insiders feel that the replacement of Bhaiyyaji Joshi, who has hardly ever shown any open interest in the BJP's activities, by an RSS leader considered close to Modi will allow the prime minister a greater leeway in the decision-making of the Sangh.

Open to new ideas

Hosabale, who is considered “accommodative and open to new ideas”, has quietly gained in strength in the organisation during last one year, around the same time that saw Modi’s graph rising in the BJP. Though some in the RSS argue that the reshuffle marks “a mere generational change”, others feel that it has to do greatly with the Sangh's requirement to adapt to the new situation so that it could work closely with Modi. In terms of age, Hosabale is almost eight years younger than Bhaiyyaji Joshi – while the former is 59, the latter is 67.

Though a pracharak himself , Modi’s relationship with the Sangh has remained tempestuous since he became the chief minister of Gujarat over a decade ago. With Hosabale as Sar Karyavah, it may well be easy for Modi to deal with the Sangh, something that he would now have to do on regular basis. In addition, the elevation of Hosable, who is held in high esteem by most of the young leaders in the BJP, may also help the prime minister keep the saffron party under tight control.

For almost two decades since the late 1980s, Hosable worked as the RSS’ organising secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the Sangh's student wing. Many of his former ABVP colleagues today occupy key positions in the BJP. With Hosabale as Sar Karyavah, Modi may have no obstacles in case he decides to overhaul the party to suit his style of functioning, RSS officials said.