Bhagwat Doesn’t Want to be in the Driver’s Seat: Walter K Andersen

Bhagwat understands that policy-making is the domain of the PM and the party (BJP), the American academic said.

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Author of the book RSS: A View to the Inside, Walter K Andersen gives us some insider information about the relationship between Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an exclusive interview with The Quint’s Sanjay Pugalia.

Andersen, Professor of South Asia Studies at Johns Hopkins University, said that Mohan Bhagwat has a diplomatic approach which helps them both understand each other’s position.

Bhagwat understands that policy is the decision of the PM and the party (BJP). The PM realises the RSS is important in training a cadre. Each individual understands each other. They are the same age, born in 1950. They’ve had interactions in the past in their careers growing up. 
Walter K Andersen

When asked if several decisions, like the BJP pulling out of an alliance in Jammu and Kashmir with the PDP, proves RSS’ influence on how the government functions, the American academic refuted it, saying the Sangh maintains its distance from politics and has historically done so.

I don’t see it that way. In part because Mohan Bhagwat does not want to be in the driver’s seat [...] When the Bharatiya Jana Sangh was formed, Gowalkar (the RSS chief at that time) wanted to stay out of politics entirely because he saw it as something that would corrupt its membership, and there is still a sense that politics is a ‘corrupting’ occupation.  
Walter K Andersen

Citing his interaction with an RSS insider recently, Andersen said he was told, "We are not a party, we don't want to be a party."

Even in 2014, on several occasions their head made it clear to the RSS workers working for the BJP that they are first members of the Sangh.
Walter K Andersen

Watch the full interview here.

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