That every political party or party leader has ‘political’ godfather is not a new thing. But an encroachment of politics over administration is something which is a worrying sign.
The eyeball rolling and criticism that have accompanied the participation of ministers in the RSS conclave, or Samanvay Baithak, is misplaced. That the RSS, which is the parent body of the Sangh Parivar, and a key player in essaying the BJP’s electoral victory in 2014, would like to offer its inputs and be apprised of the Narendra Modi administration’s progress is neither unexpected nor out of place. In the same way, it was wrong to have berated the then-prime minister Manmohan Singh for consulting the Congress party and its leadership on decisions during the 10 years of the UPA.
However, it would be gullible to think that the RSS needs special sessions for its views to permeate official policy, when many ministers, the PM downward, are RSS functionaries and the rest, under their sway. The real purpose of the ongoing meeting is to reinforce the legitimacy of the RSS, ever under a shadow following its ban in the wake of Gandhi’s assassination.
In an electoral democracy, administrations will seek to establish the political acceptability of its decisions and policies with its voters, particularly its base. For the BJP, its own party cadre and the RSS serve as the most vital sounding board. No one can object to this practice because, ultimately, it is the political party that is accountable to the people.
What must not happen is a situation where the administration abdicates decision-making to the political party, an allied outfit or a set of individuals. Prime Minister Modi must not forget that he is the prime minister of India, not just members and supporters of the RSS and BJP or those who voted for his party. As head of government, he must ensure that his administration’s decisions and policies benefit the country and all its people and not just his supporters.