Ajay Vaishnav and Pankaj Sharma /Zee Research Group
New Delhi: The saffron brigade’s predicament over Narendra Modi’s leadership is now in full public glare, courtesy its own official publications, which just handed a juicy headline to mainstream media, forcing the spotlight back on the Gujarat Chief Minister. But for RSS it is business as usual.
“Articles published in Organiser and Panchajanya are only the view point of the writer, it has nothing to do with the RSS. Moreover, these publications are run by Swayamsevaks in their personal capacity. RSS has nothing to do with it,” Ram Madhav, RSS spokesman explained.
Immediately after the Mumbai meet, BJP mouthpiece magazine Kamal Sandesh criticised Gujarat Chief Minister for damaging the party’s fabric. It was followed by Panchajanya editorial, RSS’ Hindi weekly, which questioned Gujarat Chief Minister’s style of functioning.
As a counter to the above two pieces, RSS’ English magazine, Organiser, batted for Modi as the mascot who has the ability to expand BJP appeal and vote bank across the country. Add to this the ‘battle of opinions’, the mysterious pro-Sanjay Joshi posters that have surfaced from nowhere in Ahmedabad and New Delhi on Tuesday, and got stripped down thereafter, only after being on full display on national news television media all day.
Clearly, there exist divergent views on Modi’s leadership within the BJP and wider Sangh Parivar. While Modi was able to dictate his terms and conditions at the recent BJP national executive meet in Mumbai, his elevation as the saffron party’s face in the 2014 General Elections would not go uncontested. The elevation has perhaps only sharpened the divide on Modi as the future of the party, as also intensified the debate whether he actually deserved a chance.
It is intriguing that why Sangh parivar mouthpieces are taking contrasting stands? Are they part of some pre-scripted strategy? More so, when they are known to take broadly consistent stance on most issues and fall in line on party issues. One thing is clear: these mouthpieces are not insulated from the spill-over effect of the impending political struggle. Or, the question that begs an answer: after all is there a party line on Modi?
A logical question is what kind of impact this ‘battle of opinions’ would have on readers and on Modi’s prospects? Equally interesting is: who are these readers? For starters, too much attention has been focused on what these magazines and newspapers are writing. Perhaps, they are neither on the fringes of the mainstream media nor command a genuine niche audience. But for the oxygen of mainstream media these are primarily in-house decorations.
K G Suresh, a close observer of Sangh Parivar politics out rightly dismisses these mouthpieces as having any validity. He told ZRG, “Both Kamal Sandesh and Organiser don’t have great circulation; in fact they are being circulated among MPs and senior leaders for free of cost.” But they indeed pedal a view! R Balashankar, the editor of Organiser reiterated Madhav’s point. “It (article praising Modi) was just an independent article and has nothing to do with RSS”.
This, however, does not take away the debate the article re-ignited on Modi’s prospects: his stock is undoubtedly rising and he has shown an uncanny ability to enthuse saffron rank and file at the grassroots. Right-wing commentator Swapan Dasgupta recently commented in his article in a national daily: “From the enthusiastic response of the party’s political workers at the public meeting in Mumbai, it was clear that only Modi has the ability to both inspire and enthuse the faithful.”
Suresh too reckons that in a crucial make or break 2014 General Elections “there is no alternative” to Modi within the BJP. On impact of Modi Joshi spat on leadership, he stressed that any popular leader will have the final say in party affairs. “Didn’t Atal Bihari Vajapayee have the final say in Govindacharya’s mukhauta episode?”
Modi’s international acceptability is also growing steadily. He was featured on the cover page of the Time magazine (Asia edition) in March 2012 issue. Its caption said, “Modi means business but can he lead India”.
On Tuesday (June 5), CLSA, a top global independent brokerage firm, too joined the list of his endorsers. The firm’s strategist Christopher Wood has reportedly hailed Modi government as a pro-growth government and hailed the state’s development record.