Mutiny in Goa RSS: Mass Resignations As Cadres Lock Horns With BJP
NEW DELHI: Black flags waved by RSS cadres during the visit of BJP President Amit Shah to poll bound Goa unnerved not just the BJP, but the top RSS leadership. A huddle later the RSS moved to dismiss its state RSS chief Subhash Velingkar.
Just as the top brass was dusting its hands with a sense of a mission well accomplished came news, late Wednesday night, of a virtual mutiny in the supposedly disciplined RSS ranks. At least 400 volunteers decided to resign in protest against his resignation at a meeting where the leadership was castigated amidst shouts of “Shame, Shame.”
In the process, the RSS opened itself to the indiscipline it has often charged the BJP with. Leaders of the state RSS met at a school complex near Panaji for over six hours, according to IANS, and expressed dismay at the decision to expel Velingkar who is perceived as one of the most infuential and popular leaders in Goa.
"All office bearers from the district units, sub district units and shakhas along with hundreds of others have decided to quit the RSS, until Velingkar Sir is reinstated," a leader of the state unit was quoted by the agency as saying.
Velingkar also heads the Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch that has been aggressively promoting the use of regional languages over and above English.He has been openly critical of the Goa BJP government for what he says is preference of English over Konkani and Marathi. This has led him to criticise the state chief minister, as well as the predecessor who is now Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, on several occasions.
Just before his dismissal Velingkar roundly attacked the BJP, warning that it would lose the 2018 Assembly elections. He even threatened to mentor a new political party to ensure the defeat of the BJP. And according to local leaders, he was spotted at a black flag protest against Shah as well.
The en masse resignations have put immediate pressure on the RSS to review the decision to dismiss its leader who has kept his opposition directed at the BJP, and reportedly not questioned the mentor organisation. More so as this rebellion will seriously impact the BJP’s electoral fortunes in Goa. The party is already facing a serious challenge from the Aam Aadmi Party that is surging in popularity according to local reports. AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal has received a tumultous welcome during his visits to Goa, and this has become a matter of concern within the BJP. However, as is well known Amit Shah does not brook rebellion and is perceived by the RSS cadres as being responsible to a great extent for the dismissal notice to their Goa chief.
It is clear from the six hour long meeting and the subsequent decision, that the Goa RSS is disturbed and not willing to accept what many have been quoted as saying, is interference from the BJP. RSS is a parent body. Goa BJP cannot dictate terms to the RSS," said a senior RSS leader Jayant Leleeven according to agency reports, with volunteers shouting "Shame, Shame."
Senior RSS leader Manmohan Vaidya had told PTI while dismissing Velingkar, "He has been relieved from his responsibilities. He wanted to get into some political activity. Being a Sangh leader he can't do that.” Goa Chief Minister Lamikant Parsekar had refused to comment saying it was an “internal matter of the RSS.”
The gauntlet thrown by the RSS cadres in Goa is more worrisome as it comes on the eve of crucial elections. Differences at the local level between the BJP and the RSS have been reported at intervals even from crucial states like Uttar Pradesh with Shah riding the waves as it were. A great deal thus, rests now in the ability of the RSS to stem this show of dissidence. A Catch 22 situation by all accounts.