The BJP leaders in Kerala may be trying to dissociate from A N Radhakrishnan’s tirades against writer M T Vasudevan Nair and director Kamal but the latest edition of the RSS mouthpiece went to town with a strong endorsement of the hard-line stand.
‘Kesari’ dedicated 16 pages to bring home the points raised by Radhakrishnan and even allowed him space to further his arguments. Senior BJP leader C K Padmanabhan, however, was unperturbed.
He said Vasudevan Nair and Kamal were worthy of his respect and even declared that he was a fan of Che Guevara, the Argentinian revolutionary icon whom Radhakrishnan tried to portray as a cigar-smoking blood-thirsty figure.
Is the Sangh Parivar still clueless about its pathway in Kerala when it comes to issues related to communalism? The recent controversies suggest so. The RSS central leadership has been trying to build bridges with prominent persons in the Christian and Muslim communities.
RSS ideologue Indresh Kumar, a patron of the Muslim Rashtriya Manch, even found himself as a surprise guest at a New Year dinner hosted by Cardinal Mar Baselios Cleemis Catholicate.
Then what prompted a leader like Radhakrishnan to suddenly drop his guard and assume an evidently communal posture.
He only managed to supply fodder to the party’s opponents. Padmanabhan even accused Radhakrishnan of derailing the intentions of the party rally. Radhakrishnan is one of the four general secretaries of the party but he does not have any role in agenda setting.
The party is firmly steered by state president Kummanam Rajasekharan, general secretary M Ganesh who is in charge of the organization and co-organizational secretary K Subhash.
The trio has deep roots in the RSS. All of them are RSS pracharaks who pledge their loyalty to the organization’s state leadership.
Gone are the days when the BJP’s affairs in each districts were decided by a state-level leader assigned to the district.
Under the present organization structure, the state is divided into three zones to be looked after by zonal secretaries, who are inevitably RSS office bearers.
When the BJP organized four rallies across the state - each covering 35 assembly constituencies - the RSS had put in place a parallel mechanism to collect reports of its own. The RSS is tightening its grip on the BJP.
The party’s political line is subject to change in accordance with the wishes of the dominant section in the RSS.
Radhakrishnan was perhaps playing to this tune when he suddenly took an aggressive stand, many leaders feel.
Padmanabhan, on the other hand, may have vocalized the wish of a certain section of leaders to keep away from the bear hug of the RSS.
Padmanabhan has been forced into a corner in the party. The veteran who was chosen by the Jan Sangh to court arrest after K G Marar and O Rajagopal during the Emergency now finds himself a victim of the internal fissures within the BJP.
He had to deny a campaign that he was set to join the CPM. The BJP state leadership has the unenviable task of striking a compromise between the factions led by national executive committee members P K Krishna Das and V Muraleedharan.
Kummanam Rajasekharan’s workaholic nature may help him in this job as state president.
Senior leaders such as Rajagopal, Padmanabhan and P S Sreedharan Pillai have kept themselves away from joining any of the factions but both camps know that the veterans could mar their chances with their comments anytime.
The recent developments may make sense if read together with the agenda of the BJP that gives priority to work for the unity among Hindus before integrating the minorities.
For instance, the BJP workers’ priority will be to form a unit among the strongholds of NDA constituents such as KPMS.
The party wants to fatten by integrating all Hindu groups, as per the directions issued by the central leadership at the brainstorming session held at Charalkkunnu.
The party wants to win at least two seats in the next Lok Sabha elections and it sees an opportunity in Thiruvananthapuram, Palakkad and Kasaragod.
The party expects the headwinds related to the demonetization to subside by the next budget.
At least, that is what national leader V Satheesh told the workers who raised the issue. The session was also noted by a nostalgic talk by an emotional Padmanabhan. But the RSS made its priorities clear through P R Sasidharan.
Will the parent organization be able to steer the party through the fissures created by conflicting opinions of Radhakrishnan and Padmanabhan?