Quietly, almost stealthily, the Bharatiya Janata Party has started adopting the structural divisions of its mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Beginning with Uttar Pradesh, the change is aimed at ensuring that the BJP and RSS can work as a single body on the ground despite retaining separate identities on paper.
On Monday, the exercise was made evident for the first time when the BJP went beyond its traditional organisational divisions of state and district level units and created an intermediary tier along the lines of the RSS. In this intermediary tier, the poll-bound state was divided into six zones each of which were placed under a general secretary of the party’s Uttar Pradesh unit. These six zones – Gorakhpur, Braj, Avadha, Kanpur, Kashi and Meerut – consist of a cluster of districts and follow the same boundaries as the operational units of the RSS in the state.
The zones have been placed under Rajnath Singh’s son Pankaj Singh, Ashok Kataria, Salil Vishnoi, Vijay Bahadur Pathak, Anupam Jaisawal and Swatantradev Singh respectively. These BJP leaders will now act as the party’s zonal coordinators in the state.
Traditionally, for its operations in most of the country, the RSS has been following divisions that are often different from its established administrative units. For instance, it divides Uttar Pradesh into six zones called “prants” (states), and each of them is jointly headed by a prant sanghchalak and a prant karyavah. The six zones introduced in the organisational structure of the BJP correspond with the RSS’s six prants – Goraksha prant, Braj prant, Avadha prant, Kanpur prant, Kashi prant and Meerut prant.
According to sources in the RSS, the move, which was done keeping in mind the upcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, will be completed in a phased manner in the rest of the country.
Sources in the BJP said the creation of organisational structures corresponding to those of the RSS was decided upon after several deliberations between the two parties over the last few months. It was in response to the growing need that the two bodies coordinate not only at the time of elections, but also in between polls.
In terms of the functioning of the BJP and its relationship with the RSS, once completed, the exercise is likely to have a great impact on both bodies. It will ensure not just the amalgamation of the two bodies on the ground but also a more enhanced control of the saffron political outfit by its big brother.
Blow to autonomy
As it is, the RSS exercises considerable control over the BJP. Not only does it transfer pracharaks (full-timers) laterally to the party and secures key positions for them in the saffron party’s organisational structure, it also keeps the BJP overwhelmingly dependent on its cadres and ideology.
Though the leaders of the BJP and the RSS often insist that the latter provides suggestions rather than directives, the truth is that the saffron party does not have much leeway when it comes to taking major decisions on issues related to organisational matters and policies.
Yet the two bodies – the BJP and the RSS – have existed separately even though the RSS is said to work in tandem with the political party during elections. It is because of this separation that there have been occasions when the BJP has acted independent of the RSS.
However, once the new initiative is put in place, even that separation might end, putting the BJP firmly in the hands of the RSS and ending the faintest semblance of autonomy available to the saffron outfit.