Factions in RSS slug it out over maverick Indresh

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Infighting RSS member Indresh Factions (top) and ex-pracharak Sanjay Joshi
Infighting RSS member Indresh Factions (top) and ex-pracharak Sanjay Joshi
Photos: AFP, Fotocorp

SWAMI ASIMANANDA’s confession about the involvement of RSS pracharaks in terror plots has forced the organisation to focus on its relationship with Indresh Kumar, the central executive member named by the penitent Swami. Indresh has always drawn conflicting responses in the Sangh Parivar. In the 1970s, he led a faction of aggressive student leaders in and around the Filmistan area of Delhi. In their zeal, they would sometimes beat up even other student activists belonging to the Sangh.

RSS sources say Indresh came close to government intelligence agencies when he was posted in Jammu & Kashmir. His proximity with intelligence officials created doubts in the minds of some RSS functionaries, and sources say this is when he came in touch with several people who now face terror allegations. Some saw him as a dynamic man taking the RSS to new constituencies; others saw in him an adventurer willing to take shortcuts.

Those favouring Indresh claim a government conspiracy against him because he was making inroads into the Muslim community; they want the Sangh Parivar to start an aggressive street campaign to defend him publicly. Those against him cite conspiracy theories, including one that he was discussing a coup along with military intelligence officials. They want the Sangh to sever all ties with him.

This conflict is not new. Sources say it is the reason Indresh has not got a major charge in the RSS since 2006. Because Indresh has categorically told his superiors that he has no involvement with terror suspects, they are defending him at present. If there is more evidence against him, this could change.

The RSS style of functioning, with its members maintaining low profiles, doesn’t let the infighting show. But sources say Nagpur is in a state of shock, caught unawares about its associates’ activities.

So, while RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is defending Indresh, former pracharak Sanjay Joshi, (also a former general secretary of the BJP), is believed to be gunning for him. Joshi has nothing against Indresh personally. He just wants to hurt the RSS for shunning and marginalising him. He was known as Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s strongest rival in the Sangh when a sex CD surfaced and destroyed his image; he had blamed Modi for framing him in the CD. His efforts to return have been stymied by Modi and BJP supremo LK Advani, whom he publicly opposed.

Indresh’s supporters believe Joshi is passing on information against RSS functionaries through a police officer in Bhopal, who is believed to be close to former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh, now Congress general secretary. The officer had cleared Joshi’s name after investigating the CD episode. Several of those in the current imbroglio have roots in Madhya Pradesh, from where a number of Hindutva terror suspects came.

A former pracharak, who quit as he did not agree with the emphasis on discipline and character building, says there is no way the RSS would have permitted its associates to enact terror. “A bunch of us once prepared petrol bombs to attack a church. An RSS office-bearer found out; he came at 2 am to tell us that nothing of this sort should happen under any circumstances,” he says.

But why does the RSS attract such people? “Any group driven by a well-defined ideology will have some zealots who want to achieve its goals with aggression,” says a source. “Look at the Leftists. Will you blame Marx for the Maoist violence?”

Some saw Indresh as a dynamic man; others saw an adventurer not shy of taking shortcuts

Depending on which faction holds sway, the RSS may evolve stronger directives to prevent radicals from using the Sangh to network. The effectiveness of this, however, is doubtful. Hindutva’s call for a masculine nationalist state is a magnet for those looking for shortcuts, including terror, to achieve their ideals.

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