RSS Emerges As Final Court Of BJP Appeal
By: Pinki Sat, 08 June 2019 11:00 AM
A power struggle has broken out within one week of formation of the new Modi government and the blame for it is being laid at the doorstep of BJP President and Home Minister Amit Shah. He allegedly tried to cut to size Defence Minister Rajnath Singh from whom he acquired the home portfolio, allowing him to sit in only two of the eight cabinet committees while giving himself a berth in all eight, to underscore that he is No 2 in the Cabinet. However, Shah’s hope of Prime Minister Modi siding with him in case of any showdown was dashed to the ground with Singh beseeching the RSS to restore his seniority. Singh belongs to the RSS and is respected by the present leadership.A clear fallout of the development is that the RSS leadership has emerged as the court of appeal in case any such problem erupts in the ruling BJP.
Asserting that he was already No 2, since he was sworn in immediately after the PM and Shah took the oath only after him, Singh reportedly made his displeasure known to the Prime Minister, saying he could not take such "humiliation" of being downgraded. He relented only after Prime Minister Modi urged him to come around and ordered rejig of the cabinet committees. Now, Rajnath is on four additional committees. No one in the government or the BJP is, however, ready to stick his neck out to say who really plotted Rajnath's downgrading and how the decision happened to get reversed.
Shah is a clear loser in the revised list as he not only loses one of the two committees he added with Rajnath Singh becoming the chairman of the cabinet committee on parliamentary affairs but he has been also placed below Rajnath Singh in the new pecking order. The defence minister has nothing to do with parliamentary affairs as the committee's chairmanship invariably goes to the home minister but Modi had no option but to accept the RSS diktat. Those in the BJP worried over the prospects of the Modi-Shah combine running roughshod over all others are happy at the apparent assertion of the RSS, as seen in restoration of pride of Rajnath Singh.
However, the issue of who is No 2 will be faced again on Saturday when PM Modi goes on a 2-day visit to Maldives and Sri Lanka. The practice is that the PM writes to the Cabinet Secretary informing who will chair any emergency Cabinet meeting during his absence from the country. Shah would have been his natural choice, but no longer after the RSS snub. Since Shah has been calling meetings of the union ministers on his own, Modi may choose not to designate anyone as No 2; yet he may allow Shah to carry on as he has been doing since he became the home minister.