Home >politics >policy >RSS poised for leadership change as BJP readies for 2019 elections

New Delhi: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent organization of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is poised for a change in leadership.

The national general secretary of the RSS Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi, the present Sarakaryavah , is expected to demit office during the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS) meeting in March.

The ABPS is highest decision-making body of the RSS.

“The discussions are going on if it is possible to give the duties of Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi to someone else. The final decision will be taken after proper consultations in March during the ABPS meeting in Nagpur around the second week," said a senior RSS leader aware of the development.

Senior leaders of the RSS point out that the process of organizational elections have already been initiated and the internal discussions are focusing on handing over the leadership to a younger person.

If effected, then it is likely to lead to a revamp of the organization or at least the team reporting to the new general secretary.

The proposed change in the RSS leadership comes at a time when the BJP led by Narendra Modi is readying to contest for a second term in the 17th general election due in 2019. Joshi was key to the RSS lending its full weight to the BJP campaign in 2014 and in backing the leadership of Modi, arguing that it was time for a generation change in the party.

The importance of the decision can be understood from the fact that the post of Sarakaryavah or national general secretary is just a rank below Mohan Bhagwat, the Sarsanghchalak. The Sarakaryavah is the executive head of RSS and looks at the day-to-day functioning of the organization.

The same RSS leaders quoted above said that one of the top contenders for the post is Dattatreya Hosabale, the present joint general secretary or Sah-Sarakaryavah of RSS who works closely with Joshi.

“The elections in RSS are always unanimous and this time also, the decision will be taken unanimously. We hold discussions but the final decision is always unanimous," the RSS leader quoted above said.

Joshi has been general secretary of the RSS for three consecutive terms and his three-year term would finally come to end in March.

Senior leaders of the RSS also said the appointment of a new Sarakaryavah would lead to the appointment of three new joint general secretaries—all of whom will be chosen by the new general secretary.

The new team too is expected to be made up of younger leaders from the ranks of RSS. At present, the three joint general secretaries of the RSS who work closely with Joshi are Suresh Soni, Krishan Gopal and Hosabale.

Similar organizational changes could also take place in other affiliated organizations of the RSS such as the BJP, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Swadeshi Jagran Manch.

“It is a normal process that the new Sarakaryavah would like to choose his own team and the names of the people who could be asked to take the new responsibility would also be taken up for discussion in the meeting in March," the RSS leader added.

Political analysts feel the generational change in the RSS is an attempt to involve and engage with youth more because a large part of the population in the country is young.

“BJP has maintained that the general elections in 2019 will be contested keeping in mind the issues related to youth. This explains why there is so much focus to engage with youth," said Sanjay Kumar, director of New Delhi-based Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).

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