7 Reasons Why 2,000 RSS Rebels in Goa Mean a Crisis For the BJP
The BJP unit in Goa is a worried lot. The incumbent party is facing an unexpected enemy five months before the Assembly polls. And the worst part is that the enemy is within its parivar.
After chief of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Goa unit Subhash Welingkar announced the formation of a political outfit “to defeat the BJP”, 2,000 RSS workers gathered from every part of the little coastal state to support him.
Here are the seven latest developments that have caused BJP leaders in Goa and Delhi sleepless nights:
1. Welingkar is RSS in Goa
Subhash Welingkar was not only the chief of RSS in Goa, but he was also instrumental in building the organisation across the state over the last three decades.
So, when he was removed from the post, RSS volunteers, known for their organisational discipline, chose to be with him rather than being loyal to the Nagpur-based central leadership.
On Sunday, 11 September, Welingkar convened a meeting of all important RSS volunteers from across Goa. Almost all of the 2,000 volunteers openly participated in his meeting, sending shivers down the spines of BJP leaders, who depend heavily on RSS infrastructure for winning polls.
2. Is BJP’s Core Voter Base Drifting?
The Hindutva-inclined middle class is the core voter base of the BJP. Welingkar was sacked because he refused to toe the BJP’s Christian-appeasement line. He stuck to the RSS-BJP’s original stand of promoting Konkani-Marathi in school education.
The BJP, led by Parrikar, changed its stance after coming to power and supported Church-run English schools. Will this go down well with BJP’s core voters?
Congress had lost power in 2012 after its core voters – Christians – shifted to the BJP.
3. Even Nana Couldn’t Prevent the Split!
Several senior RSS leaders tried to convince Welingkar, but all efforts proved fruitless. Apart from RSS functionaries like Datta Naik, influential personalities from various fields also tried to prevent the split.
Nana Patekar, a close friend of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, had called Welingkar in an attempt to convince him, but in vain.
4. The Rebellion is Actually Unprecedented
When Welingkar rebelled, RSS insiders played it down, saying that the Hindu nationalist organisation has seen many like him in its 90 years of existence.
The most recent and similar example is of Surendra Thatte, who had launched a campaign against Enron power plant at Dabhol in Konkan in the 1990s. BJP leaders had participated in the protests with him. But after coming to power in 1995, BJP made a U-turn and backed Enron. A disappointed Thatte withdrew from RSS and public life.
Appa Pendse in Pune and Bhide Guruji in Sangli district of Maharashtra too had major differences with RSS leadership in Nagpur. Both formed independent organisations, but that didn’t harm RSS, insiders point out.
But incidentally, none of the three ever challenged Jana Sangh or BJP in elections. Welingkar does. In that sense, this rebellion is unprecedented.
5. Will MGP, Sena Join RSS Rebels?
Due to lack of strong leadership, anti-incumbency of 5 years, the challenge posed by the AAP, and rebellion in the RSS, BJP needs allies now more than ever.
Welingkar has made an appeal to the BJP’s main ally, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), to join his ‘Mahagathbandhan’. The BJP’s disgruntled ally in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena, has appointed Sanjay Raut to hold talks with Welingkar. Smaller parties like the Goa Praja Party are also being invited by the rebel faction of RSS.
At this moment, MGP is unlikely to desert BJP. Shiv Sena has negligible presence in the multi-cultured state. But in a small state like Goa, even if Welingkar manages to get smaller parties on board, he can play spoiler for the BJP.
6. Winning Margins Are Thinner Than Fish Fry!
Goa has 10 lakh voters and 40 constituencies. So, each assembly segment has an average size of a mere 25,000 voters. With AAP and Welingkar jumping into the fray, the traditional Congress-BJP fights will transform into 4-cornered contests. That can bring down winning margins to a few hundreds. So, even if Welingkar manages to get 500-600 votes, he can possibly cause the loss of an otherwise winning BJP candidate.
7. Parrikar’s Credibility Is at Stake
Manohar Parrikar had participated in protests organised by Welingkar’s Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM) that rooted for Konkani-Marathi in education. Now Welingkar is touring the state accusing Parrikar of backstabbing the cause he once supported.
Parrikar, who brought the BJP to power in 2012 by building bridges with the Christian community, now finds it difficult to support BBSM’s demands, as it will antagonise the English-Portuguese speaking population.
Parrikar is now the Defence Minister and spends most of his time in Delhi. But the turbulence may now force him to drop anchor at his home coast.
Welingkar has initiated the formal process to form a political party, which will be launched on 2 October. He has clarified that he will not personally contest the election.
While development, employment and many other issues are being raised, Welingkar’s outfit will fight this Assembly election solely on the basis of language of instruction in schools.
It should be noted that this issue has religious overtones too. Experts believe that Welingkar’s party may not be able to win many seats, but he can ensure the defeat of some BJP candidates.