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The RSS's Engineer In The BJP

By Rediff News Bureau
March 14, 2022 18:54 IST
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Most political pundits or -- 'gyaanis as Narendra Damodardas Modi referred to them in his victory speech on Thursday -- believe that final decisions in the Bharatiya Janata Party are taken by Modi in league with his long-time Gujarat associate Amit Anilchandra Shah.

Of course, political inputs come in from a variety of sources -- BJP President Jagat Prakash Nadda, sundry general secretaries and secretaries who are in touch with ground political realities, and politically savvy Ministers like Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav.

Perhaps, frank, fearless and forthright advice comes from Bommarabettu Laxmijanardhana Santhosh, the only south Indian and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's representative in the BJP's senior decision-making hierarchy.

The low-profile and media shy (he is candid on Twitter though) Santhosh trained as an engineer and began his career in public life as an RSS pracharak some 29 years ago.

His political savvy was noticed early in the Sangh and he was appointed the BJP secretary (organisation) in Karnataka in 2006, a position in which he served till 2014.

After Modi became prime minister, he was moved to Delhi as the BJP's joint secretary (organisation) at the party headquarters, clearly meant to replace Ram Lal who served as the BJP general secretary (organisation) through the Vajpayee-Advani-Nitin Gadkari-Rajnath-early Amit Shah years.

Three years later, in 2019, Santhosh was assigned the job -- the BJP general secretary (organisation) is the point person between the BJP child and the RSS parent.

Santhosh has a reputation for being a Hindutva hardliner who is an unusual meld of an ideologue who is electorally astute. Rumours have swirled for some years that he would like to return to Bengaluru as Karnataka chief minister, but even with the departure of his reported bete noire B S Yediyurappa last year, that didn't happen.

If the BJP wins the 2023 assembly election in Karnataka, who knows?

Until then, Santhosh will remain at BJP HQ on Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg, meeting with visitors like Yogi Adityanath -- who was until sometime ago, not a particular RSS favourite -- helping the party's Gujarati bosses taking decisions that see it win state after state in assembly elections.

Please click on the images for glimpses of Yogi's courtesy call on BLS on Sunday.

IMAGE: Yogi Adityanath, left, with Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, centre, and BJP General Secretary B L Santhosh, right. All photographs: ANI Photo


IMAGE: A bouquet of orchids Yogi brought for all those he called on from Narendra Modi to Amit Shah, Jagat Prakash Nadda to Vice-President Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.


IMAGE: BLS makes a point to Yogi as Sonowal listens in.


IMAGE: Yogi was a Lok Sabha MP when the BJP won the 2017 assembly election in Uttar Pradesh.
Manoj Sinha, now Jammu and Kashmir's lieutenant governor, was then seen as the front-runner for the UP chief ministership.
Then, voila!, Yogi, who had never held a ministerial job, was picked as CM.
Some say the RSS insisted that Yogi be made CM. Others say the choice was Modi-Shah's.
Others wondered whether the decision would backfire on Modi in the future like it did L K Advani when he backed Modi to the hilt in 2002 when then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee wanted Modi removed as Gujarat chief minister.

Photographs curated by Anant Salvi/
Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/



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